Updated 2 minutes ago
Empty supermarket shelves, gas station queues and pumps running dry far from what one would expect from Britain in 2021.
The way they got to this point seems to vary depending on the political leanings of whoever you ask but the facts are clear: Brexit is the root of Britain’s shortcomings and issues.
After years of negotiations, the British government led by Boris Johnson got what it wanted – Britain’s exit from the customs union and the single market with the United Kingdom.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of non-British workers had no choice but to leave the UK and return to the EU. This includes 14,000 lorry drivers in one year. Now, Britain can’t get enough truck drivers to get petrol to their pumps or food to supermarket shelves.
As a result, queues formed in dozens of cars across Britain, and 50-85% of all independent service stations ran out. Supermarket shelves are falling, chain restaurants from McDonald’s to Nando’s and Subway are temporarily closing due to food shortages and carbon dioxide shortages delaying access to everything from soft drinks and chips to baby food and canned meat.
If you ask the British government what is behind this mess, they claim it is due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this is not the whole truth.
Are HGV tests canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions? Absolutely. Did this lead to 14,000 drivers leaving the UK? No, have other EU member states experienced a shortage of drivers? In all, it is estimated that Ireland alone has 4,000 drivers.
However, do we have a shortage of food or fuel? No, the shelves in Ireland and across Europe are full. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the EU pretty much as hard as the UK, yet we don’t have any of these issues, thanks to our membership in the EU. The main continuing factor in this situation is Brexit and ignoring the reality of the situation will not change that.
“There is nothing to see here.”
The British government’s response to this shortfall is to offer 5,000 visas for fuel and truck drivers and 5,500 visas for poultry workers from the European Union which will last until Christmas Eve.
Consider the UK Facing a shortage of 100,000 lorry driversThis is just a drop in the ocean compared to what they need to address this matter. Even when many drivers face better wages in the UK than at home, many drivers will not take such a short-term contract when they cannot bring their families or dependents.
Looking to the EU to solve their supposedly unrelated Brexit problems is not a good reflection of where the UK has found itself recently.
Northern Ireland, which is protected from the worst effects of Brexit thanks to the protocol, does not have these problems either. Northern Ireland has retained access to the EU’s single market and can therefore easily diversify its markets where there are supply chain issues and, as a result, fuel pumps and supermarkets are full.
This is not to say that there have been no problems for Northern Ireland since Brexit, but that because the new system was a “bed” and companies re-engineered their supply chains through the EU, they did much better and, as a result, exports from increased Ireland to Northern Ireland by 42%.
The truth is that the British government, in its attempt to deceive the British public, is doing itself no favors. About 53% of Britons think Brexit is going well. Ignoring the reality of the situation they found themselves in won’t change this.
Clearly, the fault lay with the hard Brexit that the British government was so determined to implement. With no other EU member state facing these issues and turning to the EU to solve these problems, the UK government is misleading the people it seeks to represent. We have always known that Brexit cannot be good, but the reality is very stark indeed.
Neale Richmond is Dublin Rathdown’s Fine Gael TD and former Seanad spokesperson for the party’s EU affairs.
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