Rising energy bills, rising prices and a critical shortage of workers leading to food and fuel supply constraints threaten to delay Britain’s recovery from the pandemic.
The crises plaguing the UK economy caused headlines and politicians to speak of an impending ‘winter of discontent’, in reference to the wave of strikes of 1978-79 which brought the UK economy to its knees. There is even talk of stagflation, the nightmarish combination of stagnant growth and high inflation.
Although shortages, supply chain delays and rising food and energy costs affect several major economies, including the United States, China and Germany, Britain suffers more than most from Brexit. .
Specifically, the form of Brexit pursued by the UK government – which introduced strict immigration policies and pulled Britain out of the EU goods and energy market, making it much more difficult for UK businesses to hire European workers and much more expensive for them to do business with. the country’s largest trading partner.
It shouldn’t be like that – there were other options for a future EU-UK relationship. Labor shortages, for example, were not an inevitable consequence of Brexit, nor was going it alone on energy. But in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ideological rush to “get Brexit done” amid tense negotiations with the European Union, deals in several crucial areas, including energy, have been sidelined.
The UK government’s post-Brexit immigration system, meanwhile, was designed to reduce the number of unskilled workers coming to Britain and end what the government has described as the country’s’ dependence on a cheap and low-skilled labor â, despite a national unemployment rate in the region of only 5%.
âIn the end, the government made the political decision to make low-skilled immigration more difficult,â said Joe Marshall, senior researcher at the Institute for Government, an independent think tank. “Labor shortages might have been less severe if the UK had retained the free movement of people after Brexit,” he added.
Britain recorded one million job vacancies between June and August, according to the Office for National Statistics. Restaurants, pubs and supermarkets, including Nando’s, had to temporarily close some locations last month due to staff shortages or because some ingredients were not delivered due to declining truck drivers .
Supply chain constraints exacerbated by Brexit mean UK consumers face rising food and energy bills as pandemic support measures are lifted, including government support for wages and a weekly increase of 20 pounds ($ 27) in social security payments.
This week, the UK government was forced to partially reverse its strict post-Brexit immigration policy after thousands of gas stations dried up over the weekend and grocery retailers warned the country did not ‘had only 10 days to “save Christmas”.
In an interview with broadcasters on Tuesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acknowledged that Brexit “will undoubtedly have been a factor” contributing to the fuel supply crisis.
To alleviate the pressure, the government will issue temporary visas to 10,500 foreign truck drivers and workers in the poultry industry. But industry groups say the measure won’t make much of a difference, in part because it’s unclear whether EU workers want to return to a country that has become more hostile to their presence.
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