We could see this coming. Let’s just be totally clear about that. We could see something like this coming. And it was always going to be something like this that opened many people’s eyes to the fact that all the vaunted and wonderful benefits of Brexit were no more than a lot of hot air.
The issue of a lack of HGV drivers was one bound to happen once EU visas were no longer applicable. We have also seen a shortage in actual supply of products as well as a failure to deliver them. That has now moved into fruits and vegetables rotting before they are picked and transported to shops. That simply speaks to the fact that much of the supply of our food came from the EU to begin with and that a not insignificant percentage of people working in the sector came from the EU. That shows what folly the promises of the Brexit campaign were. That we would be free of overreaching bureaucracy and be able to plot our own course. For all that Johnson has talked about forging a ‘global’ Britain, many of the people who voted to leave the EU don’t believe in a globalised Britain. Being a member of the EU was the most prominent sign that Britain was becoming a truly globalised country. The freedom of movement, united policy of food standards, a single market, a closer political union, all of those aspects were the things people who voted to leave opposed.
Unfortunately for them, the Prime Minister eventually put in charge of making it happen, is the laziest person to take the office of Prime Minister in living memory. Whereas Theresa May was looking to navigate the situation that David Cameron ran away from by extricating Britain from the EU without unduly harming the country. Johnson did not look to do that. He looked to simply leave and cut all ties without any safeguards or a longer grace period to help businesses, importers, exporters and far importantly people prepare for and work to mitigate the worst effects of leaving the EU after over 40 years of membership. He looked to maintain his popularity and went for something that all the experts had said would have catastrophic effects on the country. He didn’t see that a situation like this might well unfold as many European HGV drivers returned to the continent to do their jobs there instead of keeping Britain’s logistics going.
So now, we have had shortages in food, and now fuel. Nothing was put in place to either prevent there being shortages or to help mitigate the worst effects of one. But this isn’t a new problem. The government was being advised that this was a major possibility months ago. And there was nothing that they did to try and mitigate it. However much they may claim that the pandemic is entirely to blame, as well as panicking customers, this current shortage is on them. For first of all pushing for the hardest, most destructive severing of ties with the EU. A severing of ties that left the UK with no protection and no way to mitigate the effects of such a shortage. The only way to make Brexit work would have been to do it in name only. As in, staying in the customs union and the single market; allowing EU regulations to still apply. But that wouldn’t have given Johnson the support he wanted then and now. Because that is what it always comes back to for Johnson. He is an eternal populist, with no genuine beliefs of his own. He simply jumps on a bandwagon that he hopes will make him popular. This was never about a sincere belief that Britain needed to leave the EU and go its own way. It was a cynical political manoeuvre, to position himself for a future run at the leadership of his party and an eventual term as Prime Minister. Johnson is a man who has provably lied for years, to anyone about anything. That character flaw is now coming home to roost, as he has to deal with the repercussions of something that he let loose on the country.