Yves here. I have to confess to not paying much attention to Brexit. That’s mainly because Covid, but also because Brexit has moved into a death of a thousand unkind cuts terrain, except for the wrangling over the commitments made regarding the Good Friday Agreement. Lots of small businesses have suffered. Some have perished. A lot of worker, particularly haulers, have also been contending with loss of income and disruption to their schedules. Because the costs have been distributed across many sectors of the economy and a lot of businessmen also remain oddly cowed (now as in pre-Brexit, they were told or believed that they’d suffer if they crossed the Government), we’ve gotten more anecdata than actual tallies. Plus there have been fudges, but some were intended to be only temporary and I have no idea to what extend much has been fixed.
However, due to the lack of UK self sufficiency in food, those supplies had always been a cause for concern. It was stunning to see UK ministers act as if food could be stockpiled by grocers, then have the likes of Tesco executives explain that they ran on a just-in-time system and only held 2-4 days of inventories. Of course, households could stockpile, and my impression is at least some did, but I suspect those stores were depleted a while back.
Richard Murphy is sufficiently Johnson-hostile that I’d take his post with a grain of salt. But the flip side is most news related to real-world Covid problems has been buried for so long that it is plausible that the Tories could succeed in sweeping a big problem under the rug…until the rug starts moving.
By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an “anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert”. He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics. He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK
This tweet is worth sharing. I have checked the story in Motor Transport, which appears reputable:
I had to register on an industry site to read this detail, because @BBCNews have NOT published this interview on their site for reasons that are easily guessed at.
— Tim Ireland ?⚜️?? (@bloggerheads) August 3, 2021
So, what is happening?
First, it would seem as if a D notice has been issued to prevent this story being discussed. That the supply chain might get worse is not being mentioned in the media.
Second, if the Road Haulage Association is to be believed the government is doing nothing to prevent this crisis.
Third, you might almost believe that the government wants a story that is very clearly related to Brexit to be related to Covid instead.
What is actually happening? It would seem that three things are.
First, there is denial in government of the scale of the issue that they have unleashed with Brexit.
Second, there is willing to make excuses, rathe than take action.
Third, I rather strongly suspect that they think that they can sacrifice Grant Shapps to this one, and Johnson will survive again.
But if food supply moves from being an inconvenience, which it is now, to becoming a serious issue, which it seems that the Road Haulage Association thinks it might be, will the public be foolish enough to just think this the result of the pingdemic when simultaneously it is claimed that the number of cases is falling and the sensitivity of contacting has been reduced? I doubt it. I think they will smell a rat and decide that this is not a Covid issue.
All governments have to ride their luck. Johnson certainly has. However, evidence from Conservative Home suggests that even within the Tories Johnson’s own popularity is waning now. In that case it is very likely it is elsewhere.
So, will the backlash against a government whose ability to keep any promise is so obviously limited begin when food shortages become real, and the panic the media are obviously trying to avoid sets in? It may.
I just hope that it is understood that the issue is Brexit though, because it is. This is not Covid issue. Time will tell.