In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week posts, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.
My winner this week was an easy pick. Immigration.
The current UK Government stems from our Brexit vote, five years ago. They were all a bunch of malcontents who, at the time, campaigned to get us out of the EU.
I can’t blame them for that. Many people thought the EU fell fatally short, including me.
Removing fifty years of integration in just a few was never going to be easy, two Prime Ministers fell along the way, and the UK entered a period of stagnation. The zealots came along, led by Boris Johnson, and determinedly promised to complete the exit process. Unequivocal. And because people were fed up of the in-fighting, Boris was returned with a heavy mandate in 2019.
One of the perceptions of the Brexit vote was that the UK wanted to take back control of immigration. It could always control immigration from outside the EU, but from within, its hands were tied.
So, lo and behold, these zealots came into government, and started to make good on their promise, by tightening up foreigners’ rights to live and work here.
For those of you who don’t know, Britain is a country which has invested heavily into its road network. Outside of London, there is no public transport worth speaking of, and you can easily watch cars pound past you on the street, mostly with a single occupant. This means that, sooner or later, every item that arrives in UK shops is reliant on the road network to get it there.
So, marry these two things together, and what do we have?
For about the past three months or so, the UK has been hit by shortages. The shortages were blamed primarily on the supply chain – we simply didn’t have enough lorry drivers to take goods to the shops.
This first started to be noticeable in supermarkets, where shelves have gradually become emptier. And, late last week, this extended to petrol. Many stations ran dry within days, as drivers raced to fill their cars.
This culminated this morning in an announcement that temporary visas will be issued to foreign lorry drivers, to try to get the country moving once again.
Also in the news recently has been the state of the poultry industry. That might seem trivial (paltry poultry?), but all our lives, every UK family has been used to having a turkey on the table come christmas, and now, it looks like that will be the next shortage. Why? Because the government also revoked the rights of foreigners to work in the poultry industry. So they’ve announced emergency visas in that sector, too. Whether that will save christmas is anybody’s guess.
I just wanted to highlight these stories because they show two things.
First, that we need immigration. Now, we might need to ultimately control it, but our control needs to be very measured. When we run out of food and gas, it’s probably gone too far. In general, some immigration is necessary, because UK workers are simply not interested in working in some industries.
Second, it shows how difficult these things are to predict. Who, five years ago, calling for immigration controls, could possibly have predicted that they’d have to forego their christmas turkey this year? Or that crops would lie rotting in fields because there was nobody to pick them?