How Tories and SNP, blinded by nationalism, have walked us into multiple crises – Daniel Johnson MSP

Headlines in recent weeks have been filled with shortages. SNP voices have been eager to blame Brexit.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 12:30 pm
There are gaps in some supermarket shelves but it's not just because of Brexit (Picture: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

But the answer is not that simple and fails to acknowledge shortcomings closer to home. Just look at the rest of the world.

At the start of this month, there were 60 container ships moored outside the Port of Los Angeles because the port was full. Those bottlenecks and labour shortages are not down to Brexit.

Goods and labour shortages have been felt right across Europe with even the German Federal Labour Agency has stated they are short of 400,000 workers. This too was not because of Brexit.

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The global supply chain has become complex, integrated and designed to deliver everything just in time. Covid has brutally demonstrated a lack of resilience and contingency in how we expect things to work. That is compounded in this country not just by our failure to plan or invest in infrastructure.

Brexit makes all of this worse, but it is not the only cause.

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Take gas for instance. The Netherlands, which uses a comparable amount to us, has reserves more than nine times the UK’s, while Germany’s is 16 times the size despite needing half as much to heat their homes. We have failed to plan and failed to maintain resilient infrastructure.

That failure to plan goes further than the economy and is clear here in Scotland. While SNP ministers are quick to point to Brexit when discussing shortages in our health service, they don’t acknowledge that they cut 1,000 critical care beds.

Brexit makes for an easy scapegoat but it was Nicola Sturgeon as Health Secretary who made the decision to cut training places for doctors and nurses.

What we continue to see here are simplistic solutions to complex problems. This prevents us from seeing the wider issues we face and the solutions that will ultimately solve them.

Whilst Brexit has been a disaster and comes at a disastrous time, the constitutional obsessions of both the Tories in Westminster and SNP in Holyrood blind them to the global perspective and long-term planning we need if our economy and public services are to recover from Covid-19.

Daniel Johnson is the Labour & Co-op MSP for Edinburgh Southern

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