Brexit divorce is already going badly for the UK as it pleads with EU workers to come back – Vladimir McTavish

During the European referendum five years ago, the Remain campaign ran a number of scare stories about the potential catastrophes in store if we voted to leave the EU.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 4:45 pm
Farmers may have to kill and burn their pigs because of a shortage of butchers (Picture: Peter Muhly/AFP via Getty Images)

But even they failed to predict the Pig Crisis: a lack of butchers and a shortage of CO2 meaning thousands of pigs cannot be humanely slaughtered. Some farmers are left with no alternative but to watch healthy animals being killed and burned.

This is a direct result of 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!

An SOS has been sent to butchers in the EU, asking them to apply for temporary visas to prevent a severe sausage shortage over Christmas. This is exactly the same as the offer being made to Polish and Romanian lorry drivers.

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Less than 12 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 and with minimum cock-up” would have been a better aspiration, although admittedly less snappy.

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The UK government’s 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 Boris says at the barber’s.

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.

Comparing Brexit to the break-up of a marriage has become a cliche.

However, this current situation is very like 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?”

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