Welcome to a very rare feature on skipped gear. This is only the second in the series of the ‘skipped gear GQ’, where the GQ stands for ‘Genuine Question’.
I use this feature when a question is asked by a reader in a comment on a post –which of course with only seven genuine human followers, as distinct from the nearly forty followers the statistics say I have, is an extremely rare thing indeed– and it deserves a slightly more involved answer than a comment.
Anyway, this genuine question comes from Lucy, antipodean illustrator and creator of silence killed the dinosaurs and all round really very nice person —and who recently welcomed a new baby to her family too, which we are very happy about at the skipped gear hovel– so what she was doing here, only she knows. But, if you are looking for somewhere else good to go, possibly because you’re already tired of this post, that’s a link very much worth clicking now.
Lucy’s question relates to my last verse post, fragile, which addresses the fuel crisis currently afflicting the UK.
Her question about it is;
I’m a bit behind on world news that isn’t plague-related, but this is a Brexit thing, right?Lucy
Well Lucy, the answer to this particular question is absolutely not, if you read the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, or The Sun. It is simply a symptom of people who didn’t want to leave the EU in the first place not believing in Britain hard enough and still being grumpy about having been made to leave it.
If you get your news from the BBC, which has recently had a silent and invisible G for Government inserted into it’s name between the two B’s of British and Broadcasting, then you will be wondering where the word Brexit has gone these days, and you might therefore be thinking you actually dreamed the whole thing until you go to the supermarket and can’t find anything you usually buy on the shelves.
They avoid using the word in much the same way I avoid other people, i.e., with dogged determination and great success.
However, most of the media that isn’t owned by people who directly benefit from Brexit, or are allowed to broadcast what they really think, are generally of the opinion that yes, Brexit is to blame for this.
The fuel shortage is not in fuel as such, just the public’s reaction to news that a shortage of HGV tankers resupplying relatively few fuel stations before they ran out, as would usually be the case in an efficient ‘just in time‘ economy, was not happening, and so they were closing those few stations temporarily. This grew quickly into people rushing to go off and fill up sooner than usual, fearing their local station might be also affected, which made more fuel stations run out of stocks a lot faster than normal. So of course the very few shortages due to not getting new fuel delivery tankers grew then to very many, if not most, fuel forecourts.
But, the shortage of drivers for the tankers, and other goods supply HGV transport, is the thing which is behind it all (‘it all’ being ‘anything else which is delivered by HGV to places where they make, or sell, what the public expect to be able to buy whenever they want‘, and possibly more shortages in the system yet to be similarly panicked about will surely come), with the industry Road Haulage Association quoting a shortage of qualified HGV drivers somewhere around 100,000.
There are many contributing factors, but Brexit has seen the UK withdraw from both the Customs Union and the Single Market, which ended the freedom of movement agreement (with some glee from some particular sections of the press), meaning EU nationals can no longer work or cross borders from the EU to the UK freely, and once the ‘temporary’ suspension of customs protocols for goods in from the EU runs out (if at all) nor can goods inwards either. So, ejecting 14-20,000 ‘foreign’ but already qualified drivers, no longer entitled to work in the UK, suddenly added to HGV logistics industry pressures that were already existing, i.e. short on working conditions attractiveness (long hours, high pressure, low pay, jammed up roads, no facilities –the usual capitalist-system ‘cost lowering for maximum profits, never mind the people‘ things), rate of drivers leaving or retiring exceeding new qualified ones coming in, etc, etc,.
The Government says it wasn’t due to Brexit and chucking foreign workers out of Britain that was the problem, so have immediately
pleaded with offered to allow some foreign workers back in to Britain to help sort the problem... and will then chuck them back out again as soon as possible afterwards as a thank you. On Christmas Eve, to be exact. With seasons greetings of course.
Added to that, we will soon have the British Army deployed to drive tankers who, having recently been swelled in numbers in the UK by not having them lounging about peacefully in Afghanistan, will probably be very keen to help out, or at least can be ordered to if they’re not really. They’ll probably be used to driving on roads strewn with abandoned and empty vehicles all over them, and they have the necessary skills, not to mention weaponry, if the knife-pulling element of the British public can’t get their 30 litres of unleaded petrol that they are apparently entitled to.
So this year, since the official withdrawal from the EU (Brexit), we have a fuel gas –not gasoline–crisis (not Brexit related), a shortage of CO2 gas (a different sort of gas and not Brexit related), a fuel crisis (not Brexit related) a forthcoming Christmas turkey crisis (not Brexit related), general shortages all over the place of lots of things we had got used to having enough of, like food (not Brexit related), labour shortages for crop picking that used to be done by the EU nationals, who were taking our jobs but it turns out we don’t want those jobs in the first place (not Brexit related), fisherman unable to sell their catches into the EU markets that they depended on before (not Brexit related), and small businesses finding that exporting any goods they can actually make in the UK to their previous EU market places takes extra reams of paperwork (cutting ‘red tape’, Brexit bonus) and attract EU customs duties high enough to make their product deeply uncompetitive in those markets (not Brexit related).
Through all of this there may be some link, but no one in Government, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, The Sun or the B BC have managed to spot what it might be yet.
Luckily, the UK has apparently just signed a trade deal with Lucy’s home country, Australia, so I expect we’ll soon have an influx of Aussie truck drivers lining up to help us out with our HGV problems. They just need their expectations of British driving conditions tempered to not quite be the same as at home. So there’s unlikely to be driving non-stop for three days between drops and a stop for a quick kangaroo BBQ for lunch whenever you feel like it, but they probably will be able to keep pissing in a bottle and throwing it out the window like truckers all over the world do.
The Brexit bonuses just keep adding up.