Brexit, the withdrawal of The United Kingdom from the European Union. It’s been in the news for so long already without a major shock to or impact on our lives, that it just sits there in the background. Like a dull ache when in fact it’s going to be a major pain in the you know where.
The real question is whether we face a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit, with the smart money currently favouring the hard option. The reality is that either way, it’s going to have a major impact on our daily lives. For instance, on the food we eat and the price we pay for that food.
The food we eat
Look at the food items on the shelves of the multiples. How much of that arrives on these shelves off the back of trucks that disgorge on a daily basis at Dublin port? Two of the biggest ferries in Europe deposit them here and they then travel our roads to arrive in our locale. Think Tesco and M&S in particular. The German discounters will not be leaving the EU any time soon and they have their own distribution centres here already. After Brexit all these items will be imported from a non EU country. So what?
Britain wants a divorce from the EU, but at the same time a new engagement with the EU, one to replace the other directly. But the EU won’t play ball. Britain can’t have a new deal unless their divorce is first finalised. And all divorces are messy. So it’s going to be some time after Brexit before we can have some degree of normality and certainty with British – Euro trade, meantime all such trade will be conducted on World Trade Organisation terms. Messy! Food items after Brexit?
This was brought home to me during a recent flight from Cork to Faro with Aer Lingus. Feeling peckish, I ordered from the nice cabin crew a bacon and sausage baguette with Ballymaloe relish and a Finn McCool cake. The relish probably influenced me into thinking I was buying local. It turned out that the baguette was from The Brunch Box in Dundonald, Belfast, the cake from Portadown. I presume that this was no coincidence, more an example of economies of scale with BA now owning Aer Lingus and most likely doing a fair business with these companies. No problem there. But the question struck me, what happens these items after Brexit? They will be produced by non EU countries so will go through the same trade arrangements as all other countries that don’t enjoy specific trade arrangements with the EU. They are also food items, so will have to satisfy the rigorous EU food regulations but with no automatic certification to allow full access to EU. That will mean extra time to gain access for every food item. And time means money. So who will pay for the extra cost involved?
The baguette and cake were good for airplane food and served their purpose. But they gave me food for thought. Literally.