Simply Red inspires Euro-cornucopians to mock Brexit-Britain’s food shortages

Commentary Opinion

As if Britain’s food shortages and empty supermarket shelves were not bad enough for shoppers to contend with, they’re now being taunted for it by Euro-cornucopians on social media.

Images of ripe, plump fruits and legumes are being posted by Europeans mocking the return of rationing to post-Brexit Britain where tomatoes and cucumbers are in short supply.

Most of the UK’s big supermarket chains – including Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Tesco – are limiting customer purchases of some fresh produce after supplies have been hit.

However, and despite what we’ve been told, Morocco and Spain’s adverse weather is not the only reason the shop shelves are empty. Or indeed why, if there are any lettuces left in Morrisons, you’re only allowed to buy two.

Spare a thought for Lisa Fearns, barred from Lidl for trying to buy 100 cucumbers. from Lidl every week and has just been “barred” by the retailer.

“What the actual f***ity f***!” posted Fearns – who runs a juicing business – on Facebook. “I’ve been barred from Lidl for purchasing too much fruit and veg.

‘Didn’t like their [sic] cucumbers anyway. I said I’d take my custom to Aldi.”

But Aldi, like most of the other big chains, have limits on cucumbers too (though Fearns revealed she managed to pick up six at the discounter even though the limit was three). Tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, raspberries and other fresh produce are being similarly rationed in stores across the land.

Given Britons’ famous obsession with the weather, it’s little wonder it’s been blamed for the empty shelves and disappearing plum tomatoes. Along with energy costs which has seen many domestic producers suspend their operations in the coldest, most expensive months.

But not all are buying such excuses and these days not all Brits are so easily hoodwinked. Especially when evidence to the contrary is abundant and a mere click, swipe or tap away. If weather – or higher energy prices – are the main factors, then surely shops across Europe would have the same paucity of stock as those in Britain?

Britain’s food shortages – a #BrexitBenefit?

Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall pondered the point and asked his European based Twitter followers to posts photos of their supermarkets’ shelves. Using a hashtag to show what he believes is the main reason for Britain’s food shortages, Hucknall posted: “For the sake of balanced fairness can some of our mainland European friends pls post photos of their supermarket food shortages? Tx in advance. #BrexitBenefits

The results inspired the pile-on and mockery of Britain’s self-inflicted predicament. Shelves “positively brimming” with ripe fruit and veg populate the replies with some responders unable to restrain their mirth.

“Funny how our supermarket in France has lots of tomatoes and other produce from Spain and Morocco etc. Mind you we really miss the sovereignty”, tweeted Jonathan Lynn.

Another Twitter user posted: “My local Berlin supermarket today teaming with all kinds of tomatoes from Morocco, Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Spain + Spanish peppers. @Guardian if bad weather in Europe/Africa is causing UK shortages, why not also in Germany? It’s Brexit too isn’t it?”

Not that Therese Coffey – who, since September has been secretary of state for health and social care and pensions secretary and is now in charge of the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) – seems to care about Britain’s food shortages..

“We can’t control the weather in Spain,” was the actual secretary of state’s vocalised response to the National Farmers Union (NFU) conference this week. Coffey quickly hot-footed it out of the conference hall before she had to elucidate or even discuss the shortages.

“Clueless,” was the farmers’ response to Coffey’s analysis.

“Absolute nonsense,” was Save British Farming’s considered appraisal of the secretary of state’s observation. The group blames the “disastrous” Tory government for the shortages, with its chairperson Liz Webster unequivocal in her assessment of the cause of the problem.

“The reason that we have food shortages in Britain and that we don’t have food shortages in Spain – or anywhere else in the EU – is because of Brexit, and also because of this disastrous Conservative government that has no interest in food production, farming or even food supply,” said Webster.

“The Conservatives with their Brexit messed up our trade. This also impacted our labour supply because it ended freedom of movement. It also removed the cap and food subsidies.”

Sainsbury’s former CEO Justin King concurs, saying the UK’s production of fresh food has been “hurt horribly by Brexit”.

Yet there is about as much chance of the government acknowledging that as there is of them fixing any of the myriad other problems their actions and policies have caused to the country.

As if to prove the point, Clueless Coffey told the farmers conference that a billion fewer eggs produced in the UK in 2022 as compared with 2019 does not constitute market failure.

NFU president Minette Batters pressed the secretary of state to do more to boost domestic food production and address Britain’s supply chain “market failure”.

Karaoke Coffey‘s response? “There is not a market failure, Minette.”

No wonder farmers started booing her before her early exit from the conference.

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