News World Dire warnings of Brexit food shortages

Dire warnings of Brexit food shortages

food shortages
It won't be as dire as the Blitz. But still. Photo: Getty
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Fool Britannia! In a lemming-like return to the good old days, those woebegone whingers – known as the Brexiteers – are set to enjoy life as it was lived in the last grand war.

Within a few months, there’ll be empty shelves at the supermarket! The lights going out and candles lit! Planes grounded! Trucks queued for 25 kilometres at the borders!

These are the latest predicted consequences of a messy exit from the European Union by the United Kingdom – due to begin its transition phase in just eight shambolic months.

The reality is, with the government of Theresa May at war with itself, a messy Brexit is inevitable.

And the consequences have been asserting themselves ever since the Leave referendum was held two years ago – the British share market lost eight per cent of value and the pound fell to its lowest point in more than 30 years, robbing the country of significant purchasing power.

So prices went up – especially food prices – and wages have dropped into the negative, meaning they’re going backwards.

Meanwhile, for a second year in a row, farmers are reportedly failing to employ enough people (immigrant workers) to pick their crops – and good food will once again be left to rot.

The real nightmare has begun with the growing realisation that much of the machinery that allowed trade and people to move easily between UK and the rest of Europe is being abandoned by the Tory government. It seems to be going out of its way to shoot the country in the foot.

There are even claims of British shoppers stockpiling food, in response to fears of a food shortage. Photo: Getty

For example, there’s the issue of the customs union that the members states of the EU belong to, including the UK. It’s the set of rules that allows the EU member states to trade with no sanction, tariffs or time-wasting vehicle border checks once the goods have been admitted into the EU.

With no customs union membership, British truck drivers will be reportedly lined up for 25 kilometres at Calais – and there are plans to turn a four-lane highway near Dover into a car park.

It’s this spectre of British goods and imports being subjected to a bureaucratic go-slow that has led to the widely-reported predictions of food and medicine shortages, and the need for stockpiles. Britain imports half its food, and this has fuelled the stockpiling aspect in media reports.

However, Britain’s Food and Drink Federation told CNN: “While we would not run out of food and drink in this scenario, there would be potential for serious disruption to supplies and this would have implications for product availability and consumer choice.”

So, good reason for a whinge, for sure – but perhaps not as dire as the Blitz.

Another self-inflicted wound threatens to put the lights out – at least for a fifth of the country.

The UK gets 21 per cent of its power from nuclear energy (before transitioning to renewables). Until now, the UK has imported uranium and operated its reactors under the rules of Eurotom, the European safeguarding body.

Before it leaves Eurotom, Britain needs to establish its own safety measures and a government regulator to oversee the import of raw materials. A leaked government document revealed that Britain has already missed critical deadlines to put those safeguards in place. The government insists it is working on it.

If you think that’s scary, the Confederation of British Industry produced a 108-page report that looked at the risks of a messy Brexit to everything from the construction industry to higher education. It concluded the car industry would become extinct and, perhaps even worse, that Netflix, available to Brits under an EU licensing agreement, could be lost.

It’s that bad.

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