Boris Johnson is not very good at preaching embarrassing truths. The Prime Minister therefore delegated the file to his Brexit Minister, David Frost. But even he wasn’t in the mood to answer publicly. Frost eventually hired the Paymaster General, the Paymaster General of the UK government, to issue a written statement on his behalf. And it was hard.
Even though Tuesday’s statement is worded with caution, one thing has become quite clear: the UK government is being forced to postpone the introduction of border controls for imports of goods from the EU until the year to to come. Apparently, the fear was too great that Brexit would further exacerbate supply chain problems and that the British would run out of goods by Christmas.
As is customary in the Johnson government, Frost did not blame Britain’s exit from the EU for this step, but only the corona virus. “The pandemic has had a longer-term impact on businesses, both in the UK and the EU, than many observers predicted in March,” Frost said. He added: “We want businesses to focus on recovering from the pandemic rather than dealing with new demands at the border. Therefore, a “new pragmatic timetable for the introduction of full border controls will be set.”
Take back control – that was one of the slogans of the Brexit campaign. The main goal was to be able to control your own limits. In fact, a so-called prior notification should be introduced for the import of food from the EU as of October 1. This should now only be requested at the end of the year in order not to endanger the supply for the Christmas period. Further bureaucratic hurdles, which mainly mean a lot of paperwork for the companies involved, will only arise later, in some cases not before July 1, 2022.
Criticism in the kingdom is high: British companies feel punished by the government
Representatives of British companies have strongly criticized the decision. The Food and Drink Federation said businesses that follow government advice to prepare for border controls will now be penalized. However, any companies that ignore the government’s announcement would be rewarded.
Food and Drink Federation executive director Ian Wright said: “The repeated failure to implement full UK border controls on EU imports since January 1, 2021 is undermining business confidence. ” Not only that: “Worse, it even helps the British competitors. The asymmetric nature of border controls for exports and imports distorts the market and puts many UK producers at a disadvantage compared to EU companies.
Wright was alluding to the fact that the Johnson government has come forward with its decision: UK business exports to the EU are fully controlled, while EU business imports to the UK are not. This is good news for European Union companies exporting goods to the UK; unlike their UK competitors, they don’t have to fill out pages of declarations to do business. This saves you a lot of the bureaucracy that many UK businesses rage.
The government is not really listening to this. The announcement from London ministries is for the most part clear: businesses should complain less and instead focus on the benefits Brexit will bring. Recently, however, there has been more and more bad news related to Britain’s exit from the EU.
There is a shortage of cheap labor which has hitherto come from Eastern Europe
For example, fast food chains McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Nando’s have complained about delivery issues. They were forced to limit their offers and some restaurants were even closed. The main problem is the lack of truck drivers. At least 10,000 truck drivers have left the country since the onset of the corona pandemic, according to estimates from trade associations, because there was not enough for everyone to do during periods of lockdown. Most come from Eastern Europe. The number of people who will return to the UK is completely open, as new immigration rules after Brexit have made things difficult.
But it’s not just truck drivers who are wanted. There is also a shortage of cheap labor in food processing and packaging due to Brexit. So far, almost 60 percent of the 40,000 employees in the poultry processing industry are from the EU, most of them from Eastern Europe. But there is already a lack of employees. The British Poultry Council recently announced that many companies have been forced to cut production due to understaffing.
The economic situation is expected to worsen in the coming months despite the postponement of border controls. Supermarket managers and freight forwarders are already warning of Christmas supply bottlenecks. Not only popular turkeys might become scarce, but other products as well.