Empty shelves in stores became a daily reality for Brits this summer. The supplies are in the warehouses because there is no one to import them. Water is a scarce commodity at gas stations. Supermarkets in central London often lack staples like milk.
“We simply learned about it. It was a combination of coronavirus, lockdown and Brexit, which was a complete shot in the leg,” says David Moore, owner of Pied à Terre.
Drivers earn as architects
One British supermarket chain has even started offering truck drivers a monthly salary of 135,000 kronor. That’s more than the average amount that high school teachers, architects, or vets earn.
The goal of Brexit was to end the arrival of cheap labor from the EU. But this is the reason for the loss of 90 thousand truck drivers. McDonald’s chains ran out of milkshakes, rival Kentucky Fried Chicken warned of cuts, and Nandos closed fifty branches due to a shortage of chicken.
“About 15,000 pigs a week are not slaughtered to go to the slaughterhouse because we lack the butchers. The same is true for the poultry supply chain,” notes Tom Bradshaw, Vice President of the Farmers’ Federation of England.
Hundreds of thousands of EU citizens have left lower paying jobs. New people cannot come because they do not get work visas. The UK is only interested in highly qualified professions. “It is not the end of the UK. But because of that, it will be much poorer than it would be in other circumstances,” says economist Jonathan Portez.
Vacancies must be filled by the British
There is a shortage of manpower in transportation, construction, hospitality and services. However, the British government has so far rejected the islands’ business associations’ call for at least a temporary relaxation of post-EU immigration rules. The British wanted to fill vacancies. “I don’t think it is necessary to panic. We will review the whole situation,” said Trade Minister Kwasi Kwaeng.
But suppliers warn that the empty shelves in Britain may remain until the beginning of the new year. Tens of thousands of new British truck drivers are even being recruited, trained and tested.
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