Who knows what the fight the UK will have started in Europe by the time this appears in print.
After noising up the Irish and trying to stir things up with France, who knows which country the UK will have decided to take on next. Furthermore, as the country lurches from crisis to crisis like an articulated lorry without a driver, it would be a brave person, indeed, who predicted what essential items will have disappeared from our shelves by the end of the year.
During the EU referendum five years ago, the Leave campaign accused Remain of running unsubstantiated scare stories about the potential catastrophes in store if we voted to leave the EU, similar to ‘Project Fear’ employed in Scotland two years beforehand. Yet even the most ardent Remainers would never have dared to predict the pig crisis, a lack of butchers, and a shortage of CO2 means thousands of pigs cannot be humanely slaughtered. Some farmers are left with no alternative but to watch healthy animals being burned. Observing the UK unravel right now is like some dystopian version of an Ealing comedy
This is not what was promised in 2016. Johnson and his cronies were pledging millions of pounds every day in additional funding for the health service. In reality, the only extra cash received by the NHS in the last five years was raised by a 99-year-old war veteran walking up and down his back garden.
The pig crisis is only the latest fall-out from Brexit. I don’t remember Boris Johnson travelling around the country in 2016 with boasts about killing pigs painted on the side of a bus. He is doubtless relieved that he never promised to bring home the bacon!
The SOS sent to butchers in the EU asking them to apply for temporary visas is likely to get the cold shoulder it deserves. Expect severe chipolata shortage over Christmas. This is exactly the same as the offer being made to Polish and Romanian lorry drivers. Less than twelve months after they were told they were not welcome in the UK, the government is pleading with them to come back.
This is what happens when you replace policy and strategy with three-word soundbites. ‘Get Brexit Done’ may have been a catchy slogan on the campaign trail, but ‘Let’s do our best to get Brexit done properly without making a complete fucking cock-up’ would have been a better aspiration, although admittedly less snappy.
That attitude would never be taken to any other transaction. If you were paying someone to decorate your house and they asked what you wanted them to do, you wouldn’t say ‘Just get it done’. Likewise, if you were ordering a meal, or getting a haircut. On second thoughts, ‘Just get it done’ is probably exactly what Johnson says at the barber every time he goes for a chop given how his hair turns out.
Some would say that the chickens are coming home to roost. Except that there is likely to be a severe poultry shortage in the next few months. Johnson was offered the chance by the EU for a further delay to withdrawing from Europe, due to the unique problems posed by the pandemic. He, of course, decided to plough on and insist on leaving, no matter how bad the terms. Doubtless this was because of his earlier claim that he would ‘rather die in a ditch’ than postpone Brexit. That claim was the main reason I supported the campaign for a second referendum on Europe. That should have been the choice on the ballot paper.
We were already the laughing stock of Europe before the government started offering temporary visas to the very people who we told were unwelcome in this country a mere twelve months ago. Comparing Brexit to the break-up of a marriage has become a rather hackneyed cliche. However, in this current situation, is quite apt. Imagine one partner turning to the other and saying: ‘I’ve decided I’m leaving you. Look, this isn’t working for either of us. You’re holding me back, you’re stopping me becoming who I want to be. I’d be much better off without you. Don’t try to stop me. I’ve packed my bags and I’m going. Don’t even think about trying to make me change my mind’. The door slams, we hear keys drop through the letterbox. Five minutes later, the doorbell rings. ‘I don’t suppose you could give me a lift to the station, could you?’