Saturday, October 23

Gas, food and butchers shortages: the perfect Brexit storm breaks out in the UK

“Get Brexit Done”, Boris Johnson said to win the internal battle on the British right. “Taking back control”, his followers cried out as a sovereign cry before leaving the European Union. But, as the weeks and months go by, and in the absence of Johnson unilaterally ending the moratoriums in Northern Ireland and Brexit ending, the consequences of leaving the European Union are translating into problems of coexistence in Ulster, a blockade in the negotiations for a free trade agreement with the United States, and a shortage and shortage of fuel and fresh products due to the flight of community and non-community workers due to the growing obstacles to working in the United Kingdom.

In recent months, the United Kingdom has been dragging a shortage of truck drivers that translates into empty shelves in supermarkets. But now, as published by Bloomberg, the shortage is also being noticed in the banking sector. International hires, mostly from the EU, account for about a fifth of the 1.1 million people working in UK financial services, but Brexit makes it more difficult and expensive to attract foreign staff.

(Eternal) pit stop

The UK truck driver shortage is also hitting petrol stations, including some owned by British-owned BP and Exxon Mobil.

As reported by ReutersThe Gasoline Retailers Association (PRA), which represents 65% of Britain’s 8,380 service stations, said on Friday that 27% of the pumps were dry; 21% had only one type of fuel in stock, while 52% had enough gasoline and diesel.

Tension has been unleashed in some service stations in recent days due to lack of fuel.

Johnson has tried to react by mobilizing the army and extending temporary work visas to foreign truck drivers until the day before December, fearing that the Christmas campaign will be a fiasco.

Still, convincing Eastern European truck drivers to return to the UK will be tricky, even though they were a mainstay of Britain’s transport sector before Brexit and COVD-19. A spokesperson for the Hungarian Road Transport Association told Bloomberg that now there was “a lot of mistrust” after so many ups and downs and fear of being “in the lurch” after the visa expires.

Downing Street argues that most of the problems are related to COVID, noting that UK citizens, and not just foreign truck drivers, have left the trucking industry, leading to a huge staff shortage .

However, it is enough to go outside to see that the rest of Europe has no shortage of gasoline and has managed to keep supermarkets stocked. “I have passed some gas stations in the center of Brussels this morning: normal service, no queues, no shortage,” Sebastian Fischer, spokesman for Germany’s permanent representation to the EU, tweeted these days with the hashtag #BenefitsOfTheSingleMarket.

According to Politico, Some 14,000 EU drivers left Britain last year, while thousands of food industry workers have also returned to their home countries. The fact that London has to issue emergency visas to EU workers shows its dependence on non-British workers after many Brexiters accused European workers of taking jobs away from British workers.

As a result, the British government decided earlier this month that, due to supply chain problems, it would again postpone paperwork and controls on products arriving from the European Union. On the contrary, the EU has established controls for British exporters since January, which gives Community producers a competitive advantage over those in the United Kingdom, as they do not have to comply with customs controls.

“The EU workers we spoke to will not go to the UK to get a short-term visa to help the UK get out of the shit they created themselves,” Edwin Atema from the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions told Hanne , according to Politico.

Pigs in limbo

After a truck driver shortage has sparked gas station shopping panic, ranchers are now warning that a shortage of butchers and slaughterhouse workers could force a mass slaughter of up to 150,000 pigs, Reuters reports.

Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said a slaughter of up to 150,000 pigs could be unavoidable “in a week, ten days.”

The severe shortage of butchers and slaughterhouses in the meat processing industry has also been exacerbated by COVID-19 and post-Brexit British immigration policy, which has restricted the flow of workers from Eastern Europe.

The government announced on Sunday a plan to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign truckers and 5,500 poultry workers to alleviate the shortage, but has not yet announced plans for other sectors: it says companies should invest in their workforce and improve. wages and conditions.

Lizzie Wilson of the National Pork Association (NPA) told Reuters that the shortage of butchers meant that processing companies were operating at 25% less capacity.

“There are currently around 120,000 pigs on the farm that should be in the food chain by now,” Wilson said. “It’s getting to the point where we tell the government that if we don’t get help soon we will have to consider the possibility. to slaughter pigs on the farm, because that’s our only option. ”

And more problems with France …

Tensions between Paris and London have risen over access to fishing waters, after the UK rejected three-quarters of all requests for French vessels to fish in the waters around the Channel Islands.

“We can no longer accept that the UK does not respect the Brexit agreement and the rights guaranteed to our fishermen,” Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, said on Twitter.

The agreement on fishing rights was part of the Brexit agreement, but it has been a source of friction between Paris and London, especially in May, when the two countries sent patrol boats and France threatened to cut off the electricity supply to Jersey.

… and with Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, the UK and the EU seek to defuse tensions over the Brexit dispute over Northern Ireland, which is keeping the sausage war open.

British government sources await proposals from Brussels and trust that the next few weeks of negotiations will reduce the possibility of drastic action, such as trying to get out of the protocol that maintains an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The parties are preparing for weeks of intense talks to resolve it. The EU plans to offer proposals next month to address the British complaints.

Scottish rebellion

Around three-quarters of Scots think Brexit has gone ‘bad’, according to a YouGov poll for the Scottish National Party. The SNP argues that independence was the only way to “keep Scotland safe from the long-term harm” of leaving the EU.

The survey reveals that less than 20% think it is “good” and more than half think it is “bad.” The Yougov poll, conducted on Wednesday on-line, asked people across the UK to rate Brexit progress on a scale from “very good” to “very bad”.

Of the 6,456 people who participated, only 4% thought it was going well and 14% thought it was going “quite well.”

On the contrary, more than a quarter (32%) thought it was going “very bad”, while 21% said that Brexit had gone “quite bad”.

The survey comes after fuel and food supply problems and also warnings from the fishing industry that their livelihoods were being destroyed and border problems where products have been held up for days.

In Scotland, which voted 62% to 38% to stay in the EU, only 3% of people think it is “very good”, while only 8% think it is “pretty good”. At the opposite extreme, 22% think it is “pretty bad” while 46%, the largest group in any region of the country, said it is “very bad.”

Shortage of smiles

As reported by the BBC, David Duffy, co-owner of Duffy Circus, is calling for the people of Northern Ireland to become clowns. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a shortage of artists, with many returning to their home countries when the first lockdown went into effect in early 2020, according to Duffy.

But the confinement was difficult for Duffy and his circus has been closed for more than 500 days. He will soon be able to tour Northern Ireland again, following changes to Covid-19 restrictions. But artists have been able to find work in other countries that have opened up more quickly.

“Because all the circuses in Europe and England have been in operation for the last six months, that large group of artists from the EU are already back at work and until last week we have not even been able to obtain artist visas. and entertainers from outside the EU, “said Duffy:” So we are trying to reach out to any of our people who feel they can give it a try. ”

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