Opinion: 'Why are we still blaming Covid for everything?'

Empty pasta shelves in Sainsbury's on Pound Lane in Norwich

Food security is a big issue in a post-pandemic, post-Brexit world says Rachel - Credit: Sarah Ravencroft

Best tip you’ll get this week: Buy your Christmas sprouts today and get them in the freezer. Grab a turkey too if you can find one.

Pretend your TV is on the blink to keep children away from toy adverts and start the story now about how Covid has wiped out Santa’s army of elves so presents will be limited and sparse this year until he finds new helpers.

For once, all power to those who always do their Christmas shopping in the January sales.

Make friends with anyone who has had the foresight to cultivate an allotment, then delve into survival tips from the 1980s Soviet Union when empty shelves were part of life with the population queuing for hours for bread and meat, fruit and veg and coffee.

We’re in real trouble. The lines of empty shelves in supermarkets are getting longer, yet nobody’s really talking about the elephant in the room. Are we blindly believing apologetic shop signs that the 'temporary disruption' of deliveries will be remedied soon?

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How long is ‘temporary’ exactly?

You know things are bad when McDonalds takes milkshakes and bottled drinks off the menu and Nando’s must shut 45 outlets because of a chicken wing shortage.

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Stock levels at major retailers are at their the lowest for nearly 40 years - since 1983 – because of worker shortages and transport disruption. It’s a combination of Covid and Brexit, we’re told. Forty years.

How long are we going to carry on blaming Covid for everything that doesn’t in work in broken Britain?

A plumber doesn’t turn up “It’s Covid”, timber prices are sky high “it’s Covid” no one answers the phone anywhere “it’s Covid.,”

The Covid-effect can’t wash forever. We’re not stupid. It’s been a smokescreen – a devastating smokescreen. Now restrictions are lifted and the pingdemic effect fades, the true Brexit results will unravel the real new normal we have to live with.

It doesn’t take a new series of Vera to investigate that the shortage of warehouse drivers, warehouse staff, distribution centres and supermarket workers are the minimum wage jobs taken by people who took advantage of the freedom on movement Brexit stopped.

I’m not the only person emitting too much carbon chasing around empty shelves to track down a sack of my dog’s favourite food, time after time facing yards of empty pet food shelves.

We’re unnerved now but should have real worry about what comes next.

Brexit trade barriers due in October wave a very big red flag about what’s to come for our shops with added pressures on logistics, food manufacturing and hospitality as the country gears up for its first Brexit Christmas. Desperate hiring for what retail and hospitality hopes will be a bumper period has already started.

Pets At Home, Amazon and others are offering hefty joining fees to get staff. Amazon is offering £1,000 ‘golden hellos’ to new warehouse workers.

Brexit has brought extra skills shortages compounded by the ‘pingdemic.’

Tesco and Asda are also offering HGV drivers a £1,000 bonus to sign up, while newly recruited registered night nurses are being offered £10,000.

It tells a powerful story we were told would never happen.

Latest figures from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation suggest that there were 1.65million vacant positions in the UK, with near-record numbers of ads being posted.

Other countries are facing issues, but UK’s problems are worse because we’ve been particularly exposed by tougher migration rules after Brexit.

Andrew Sentance, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, painted a worrying picture for the British economy because shortages of workers and materials were the most acute in decades.

This is no “flash in the pan,” he says. “Now that lockdown has been eased, we’re seeing a truer reflection of the impact of Brexit and issues building up before the pandemic.”

So, the pandemic masked what so many feared would be the result of Brexit, and the British public is paying the price – and even greater prices as the cost of everything that we can get our hands on soars.

It’s time to face facts about the Brexit bingo paper we ticked five years ago. Not only didn’t the £350 million bus promise about cash saved filling a big NHS hole, those so-called harbingers of doom warning about shortages of what we take for granted being able to grab from our village Co-Op have come true, but, until now, could hide behind the impact of an unprecedented pandemic.

What we should have done when we cut ties with Europe to go alone as the magnificent nation we are, is think about how we could become self sufficient in our food production and think about the manufacturing we had lost and our reliance on others before we jumped.

If allotment holders had any sense, they would be setting up their own micro-businesses capitalising on a looming food crisis.

We’re being warned this could persist for much longer. The impact of Brexit on our ability to attract workers from the EU is not going to go away quickly and skills shortages we already had could go on for a few years.

We all need to think about how we live our lives to get through this without availability of what we take for granted

And this is supposed to be a period of positivity for a post-Covid recovery.

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