I recently wrote that everything I predicted, as a Remainer who publicly debated the EU referendum back in 2016, is coming true.
But I just want to update some of my American friends on what is presently going on. Those right-wingers in the US – some of whom comment on this blog – supported leaving the EU because it was a big “screw you” to free movement of people qua immigration.Except, as with everything, it was way more complex than that. Right-wingers have been traditionally been pro-Brexit by also claiming they are small government liberals. Of course, Lexiteers (left pro-Brexiteers) will tell you that the EU is a neoliberal enterprise. Free movement of capital, services and labour is a neoliberal ideal, after all.
The EU is something of a contradiction in many ways: a neoliberal project with a penchant for moral positioning and regulation, a step towards a one-world order, perhaps.
But we won’t let nuance get in the way of a simplistic bit of jingoism.
Anyway, you might have heard how well it is going over here. No one wants to do the work that (Eastern) Europeans used to do over here. Everything from nursing to abattoirs and meat industry preparation, fruit and veg picking to HGV driving, we’re basically buggered.
We presently have a fuel crisis – well, one of many crises. I have been unable to fill my car up this week until this morning when my petrol station reopened. That was a nice wait, and even then I was restricted to £30.
So here is what we have:
- Fuel crisis since there are not enough dangerous goods drivers. The army have been drafted in to prop up…captialism.
- Supply chain crisis since there are not enough HGV drivers.
- Fruit and veg are rotting on the fields as there is no one to pick them.
- There will be a turkey crisis at Christmas.
- Apparently, this will also stretch to toy and Christmas tree shortages for Christmas.
- Fish supply disaster and a massive price hike (see below).
- Energy crisis where we are hit harder than the EU as we are no longer in the internal energy market, supporting EU member states to acquire gas. As a result (including my own company that went out of business last week), they are predicting 60 out of 70 energy companies will have gone bust by the end of winter. This is due to throw a whole bunch of people into fuel poverty, especially since the government have also taken money off universal credit, and are due to hit the working class more with National Insurance Contribution rises. Man, the Tories hate the poor.
- There is a knock-on effect of CO2 production being hit, because CO2 is a byproduct of fertiliser manufacture, which uses natural gas. Fertiliser plants have had to shut causing a CO2 shortage. CO2 is used to stun animals in abattoirs, to chill food in food distribution, in beer and fizzy drinks.
- The UK government has bailed out a US fertiliser company so it can continue manufacturing whilst letting small and medium-sized UK energy companies go under.
- Gas prices, and, well, all prices are going up as the cost of the logistics, oil and gas are pushing them up. Inflation, everybody!
See James O’Brien’s excellent interview of Polish journalist and truck driver Tomasz Orynski, who decimates the UK government’s supposed solutions, and gives a really fascinating view of Europan truckers operating (or not) in the UK. Well worth watching (I can’t seem to embed the video).
EDIT: It’s just been put on YT here:
A great point being that all the truckers jobs going in the UK are the worst ones – the ones that our drivers don’t want to do – so why would Polish drivers want to come the UK for three months only to be kicked out after that?
Here are a few interesting videos to watch. The first one raises an eyebrow because the turkey farmer states that the news organisations that have interviewed him have edited out what he has said about Brexit because they don’t want to blame Brexit, for whatever reason:
And another disaster area is the fish industry. Mariella Gabutt went viral for her sarcastic Brexit remark on the BBC News, but she was not allowed to say what she ended up being candid about with Byline:
So on and so forth. Look, I get it, Republican voters in the US hate the poor (even though many working-class people vote for them because, you know, guns, abortion and God, right?), so it’s no surprise that such voters (as we see on the threads here) will still blindly (because they didn’t really understand Brexit anyway) support Brexit, the Tories, and the continued assault on the working class.
But Amazon still get away with paying a pittance in tax, and all the Covid contracts were given to tory chums and neighbours.
Bunch of corrupt idiots. Yes, Angela Rayner, I agree with you.
Just a quick note on this as people called me out last time for supposedly not being in support of HGV drivers getting paid better for their work, a result of the European drivers going back to Europe and there being a shortage in the UK. Lack of supply, high demand, the cost goes up.
In principle, yes to higher wages, within reason. So this is a huge increase all of a sudden and arguably might not reflect value for money. Drivers are in…the driving seat.
The problem is, this still doesn’t solve the problem. Thinking that all UK unemployed will just all be rushing to be HGV drivers on fantastic pay is not the realistic solution to this. (There is a knock-on effect on industries that lose already-employed workers to drivers then themselves being understaffed, and their staff costs rising from a shortage…) The government know that plugging the hole with UK staff will not solve this, too, so they have scrambled a visa package together. Quick, get me some immigrants! You know, the ones we shooed off! But as you can tell from the interview above, and from articles like this, that package is being snubbed by European drivers.
The Daily Mail, typically, are selling this issue as a Brexit success:
BIG BUCKS for blue collar workforce! Desperate bosses are posting job ads to pay truckers £78,000, fruit pickers £62,000 and milkmen £45,000 amid staff shortages (time for a career change?)
…It means those working 40 hour weeks can earn up to £62,000 pro rata – way above the £26,000 average for fruit and vegetable pickers in the UK.
A £62,000-a-year pay packet would put fruit pickers on par with dentists in terms of average annual salaries and is almost exactly double the UK average of £31,000-a-year.
Meanwhile, one courier firm is offering delivery jobs for salaries of up to £52,000-a-year – more than the average London based office salary of £42,500-a-year.
Milkmen can also earn themselves a bumper pay packet, with one employment advert offering up to £45,000-a-year for a milk delivery driver.
All of those jobs that Europeans used to do now need to be filled. And whilst I have no problem with better pay, an immediate shock to the system of a whole range of jobs commanding massive pay increases will cause huge inflation that will affect the working class and lower-middle-class the most.
Of course, the reality here is that these figures won’t necessarily reflect the value of those jobs accurately (in the short term) and will cause a huge inflation to the products and services (and given that one service is transporting most every other product, the price of everything rises). Our grocery bills are going up, our energy bills have soared, our energy companies are going bust leading to less competition whilst US companies are protected, our shelves are looking emptier, Christmas might be a struggle, and all the while universal credit is reduced for the poorest, and NICs are increased. People who were living on the breadline a few months ago are now faced with quite some doom and gloom.
Or, in another way, fuck the poor.
But at least we’ve got blue passports again, right?
(Oh yeah, they’re made in the EU…)
In the long term, after a lot of pain, we might get to a better place with more British people employed in better-paid jobs, but the pain in getting there…
But this is what I said before – I would love to have asked – demanded – that Leave voters had to pay upfront for the first year, and annually thereafter, for the cost of Brexit. It is already costing us an awful lot – our bills since 2016 are much higher – and I would be interested to see how many Brexiteers would have thought it was still worth it. I would love to see their vote in light of the actual out-of-pocket costs Brexit will incur.
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