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Hoarders may be right to fill the cupboards before Brexit

PUBLISHED: 18:14 16 January 2019

Are you stocking your cupboards with non-perishable items ahead of the UK's EU departure at the end of March?

Are you stocking your cupboards with non-perishable items ahead of the UK's EU departure at the end of March?

Archant

It may have seemed like a bonkers idea but suddenly the thought of storing food for our post-EU departure has some credence, argues Rachel Moore

At 3am yesterday morning I lay awake wondering what the larder at Number 10 was looking like.

Have staff been instructed to ferret away piles of tins, pasta and jars to keep going post-Brexit? Is there a cat food stash to keep the Downing Street moggie going through April?

Have the Chequers domestics calculated how many loo rolls they need to stockpile beneath the stairs should the shelves be bare in supply chain delays after March 29?

Has the diabetic PM ensured she has enough essential insulin patches to get through April and May, should the concern about pharmaceutical supplies be true?

To stockpile or not to stockpile? It’s keeping people awake at nights. Scaremongering, or simply being prepared? Insurance or foolhardy?

As polarised as the to-leave or not-to-leavers are the to-hoard or not-to-hoarders.

Hoarding food, toiletries and medicines to mitigate fear of shortages because of delayed imports post-Brexit was snigger-prompting a few months ago.

Gaze on them and weep, we’d say, like those people who sweep supermarket shelves free of bread and milk if there’s a whiff of a snow flurry on the horizon.

Sad beggars with nothing else to worry about. Over-reacting twerps collecting two years’ worth of washing powder, after careful research about how many that would need.

Some people even have spreadsheets. For the love of...

But, slowly and surely, more rational and sensible individuals are succumbing and piling it high at home.

So much I’m now worried the laugh might be on me when the cupboards are bare on April 1, the lorries are queuing and mince pies from 2015 are the only supper option.

We might laugh that it will be just another Millennium bug panic, but are we being blasé and naive?

After Tuesday night’s farrago, are the real fools those of us putting trust in the people paid to get us out of messes? Even ardent Brexiteer Michael Gove’s former adviser James Starkie has said there could be shortages of seasonal foods because of delays with imports at Dover.

Who can say we won’t face Soviet Union Cold War-style shortages of certain foods?

Even the chief executive of the Association of British Pharmaceutical industry said a no-deal Brexit “should be avoided at all costs”.

If the hoarders – self-titled ‘preppers’ and ‘hamsters’ – are right and we’re left without medicine, I’ll be well up the creek. I need daily medication to function, and ultimately stay alive. My strict monthly prescriptions don’t allow for stockpiling.

Perfectly rational, informed and intelligent people are not ashamed to say they are stuffing their lofts and garages with non-perishables, pet food and toiletries.

“We feel vulnerable. It’s old-fashioned larder mentality,” someone said to me the other day. “How can we trust what anyone says now?”

If it’s a false alarm, foodbanks will enjoy windfalls. If it’s not, their sensible precautions mean there will be less pressure and more for us non-planners if shortages do hit.

Not supply chain logistics experts, how do we know? Did you know that what is on a supermarket shelf today was on a lorry last night? I didn’t. The turnaround is so tight that any delay has effects.

I want to shrug off the stockpilers, but looking at the right royal mess being made of Brexit, can we have any faith or trust?

Businesspeople are also losing sleep about where to find their workers post-Brexit.

The food industry in our region, especially, already struggles to find an adequate workforce locally as workers head back to their homelands. This is creating labour shortages, with companies resorting to bussing workers in from outside the county.

An obvious solution is lurking in our schools and colleges,

This week university lecturers suggested a shake-up of the application system to the far more sensible process of students applying for places after they have received their A-level results, to stop the farce of conditional and unconditional offers based on teachers’ predictions.

University terms would start in November.

How better to prepare for real life than a job in an industry facing shortages? Students can earn money, learn what working life is really like and arrive as a student with a wider perspective on life.

My graduate son starts his vocational post-grad course next month in Manchester. To fund his life before it starts, he’s been working loading boilers and radiators for plumbers and builders at an independent DIY store.

Even after six years of bar and restaurant work to support his student life, this job has been a real eye-opener about how the world works and the people in it.

Daily dealings with tradespeople – some with 
colourful criminal pasts – has taught him far more about real life than three years with the privileged, educated and 
sheltered and a glossy degree certificate ever could.

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