I thought that watching George Bush Jr get a second term across the pond would be the weirdest, daftest and most baffling political decision I would bear witness to.
And then, there was Brexit.
It is obviously too late now to complain or campaign as the masses have spoken and landed the UK in some seriously muddy waters, where we now wait for our Parliamentary elite to decide who gets a dinghy and who gets ploughed up in the boiling wake of all the mega yachts. I think that numerous people on both sides of the vote have acted like total morons. I also think that even more people on both sides absolutely believed that the end result would never be for Out, and are now wondering what the bloody hell is going to happen.
The short answer of course is that nothing is going to happen until someone steps up who is prepared to go down in history as the
Boris Person Who Invoked Article 50. The ramifications are massive for everyone who lives, works or trades in the UK as it stands today but it seems odd how many of them seem to not think so. One of my inlaws was held to say that ‘It will make no difference to anything. It never does.’ Several other people have commented that they don’t care about trade or migration or laws- they want to know how this is going to effect them. They want to know if their Spanish girlfriend is going to have to leave the country, if their job at the BMW garage is ok and how much the net cost of their generic supermarket wire basket of choice is going to change. We all have to eat, after all. Once again my friends, dinner unites us.
The most immediate concern to Joe Normal who doesn’t work in food but does eat it should be the pound. Yes it goes up and down all the time but there isn’t too much faith in it at the moment. Everything you now buy with your pound that was bought by the person who sold it to you in Euros or dollars is likely to be a bit more expensive in the immediate future be it polo shirts or pomelos. This isn’t necessarily solved by only buying British as plenty of British manufacturers deal within Europe and beyond and may handle their accounts in euros or dollars.
Coming second to the pound is petrol, which due to the pound fluctuating is likely to go up in price in the next week at the pumps and is unlikely to survive the confirmed tax increases being finalised by our Chancellor as we type. The knock on to this goes to your food shop- how much it costs you to drive to Tesco or how much Asda charge to deliver your shopping to your doorstep. The end bill to all the big players for shipping their produce in and out and across the country is a substantial amount of money and they are not going to absorb this at the expense of their own profits- they will make up for it at the till. A quid on your dishwasher tablets. 5p on your bananas. Dropping that three packs of meat for a tenner offer. Every little helps.
This may be a time when the argument to buy from your local farm shop becomes stronger than ever.
A funny thing happened to me yesterday. Whilst selecting my vegetables for purchase I didn’t bother to check the countries of origin. I usually root around like a rabid animal, desperate to attack some English apples or Scottish beef or local stawberries depending on the season. I have been known to persistently abuse supermarket social media accounts when I have no local purchase options and if, again seasonally dependent, I can’t buy it from a close European country then I don’t buy it at all. Braeburns are not the only fruit and in a global market, I still like to buy from my neighbours. In a previous life I have changed an entire, meticulously planned lunch party menu at the last minute when I could only find Kiwi lamb on the shelves in M&S. I do not buy southern hemisphere meat. Ever. But in my last shop, I picked up the cheapest broccoli and a bag of spuds and some apples and I would have to go to the fridge now to tell you where they grew because I simply didn’t care where they were from. Writing this, I still don’t. I seem to have lost my ability to shout about my homeland and how brilliant it is.
I will come back to this later.
What about Brexit and everyone who works as well as shops from the food industry here? I know a lot of people employed by Edibles of some sort and they now face the implementation of Brexit with a number of issues.
Issues like having a job in London and a Head Office in Scotland, a country likely to do everything it can to dump the UK as soon as it can. How will that work? We don’t know yet. It might all be fine, but ‘might’ doesn’t pay your rent.
Issues like running a small coffee shop which makes money but not much and is likely to lose custom if the economy begins to shrink and people don’t have extra cash to splurge on hot drinks and bits of cake. When do you start cutting costs, and where?
Issues like facing redundancy due to relocation of a huge dairy depot, employing hundreds of the local Polish community who are now either unemployed or moving a couple of hours North to keep a job which might not exist in 2 years time, in a country that can’t guarantee their right to work here at all. That has to suck. I will also come back to this later.
For balance, I should also mention friends and family in the farming industry who are now thrilled to approach a future free of EU controls and subsidy rules and all that nonsense. Who knows what kind of boosts are possible for British farmers IF their government decides to back their interests in this brave new world. I have my hat off to these people for embracing hope rather than trepidation at the uncertainty.
Fishing, now, that’s going to get better right? We’re going to have mountains of cheap cod again and all our fisherman can build second homes and have solid gold nets! Nigel Farage said so! I can’t maintain neutrality on this, as it is one of the biggest piles of bullshit of the Leave campaign where facts got left in the backwash of the farcical Thames rally. The patriotic fish stocks wont move into British waters when article 50 comes in, by the way. Millions of pescetarians are not going to start ditching cheap Vietnamese tilapa fillets for a nice chunk of cod at twice the price. In all likelihood the Government will again spend millions on various reports and investigations from scientists as to sustainable fishing amounts then add on 10% and watch as our seas are stripped to nothing. This is a double tragedy as the unpopular EU quotas, which I myself have slammed in the past, are responsible for bringing up the cod levels to the point that it will soon ‘likely’* be announced a sustainable species once more. Another interesting point, a current point of today, is that 80% of our wild caught (not farmed) seafood is exported and 4 out of 5 of those buyers are, wait for it, can you guess? Yes, in the EU*. The same EU that is indicating that there is zero interest in maintaining free trade rules with the UK if we aren’t going to honour free movement. Migration was a huge promise from Brexit and if we don’t budge on it so there goes the profitability of 4 out of 5 seafood exports. And now that the UK has decided to divorce our continental partners, will they still want to buy it from us anyway?
This leads me to what I have been saying I will come back to and that is that talking about pounds and shopping baskets and petrol pumps and mackerel hauls is immaterial without talking about people, and the people of the UK are in crisis. Not everyone is unhappy about Brexit and I categorically do not condemn anyone who voted Leave just because they voted Leave. I don’t want to talk about how you voted or why anymore. I don’t want to talk about incidents of hate crime and racism being perpetrated by morons who should be rounded up and put in a giant cannon and shot to the moon which they can make Their Country as bigoted and poisonous as they like. I want to say that up until 24th of June this year I was a very passionate patriot and I loved the UK and I wanted to see it thrive. I wanted to buy apples harvested here and support dairy farmers the way I support the rugby team or that miserable sod Andy Murray. You see, because I can be English and British at the same time. And I thought I could be European too. That has been taken away from me, by a narrow margin, and I’m really pissed off about it and the only way I can immediately respond is with my money. I don’t want to give it to separatists who have, willingly or not, just sided with the violent racist hoards of this country who now think they have the backing of 52% of the population to start sending hate mail to Hungarian children and call third generation Cardiff dwellers ‘Pakis’. Ah but there were Poles in the SS you know! Also, Hilter was a vegan. Are we going to blame the holocaust on those who eat only peanuts and carrots for breakfast?
Oh this is a food blog, yes sorry back to that. Where am I going to go out to eat in my little town that voted well over 60% to Leave? Probably to the Italian up on the main road, where I’ve never heard an English accent behind the counter or the order pad. Because I don’t hate them and I want them to know that. Or maybe to the cafe in town which is run by a team of guys who are mostly, er, I don’t know where they are from. They look and sound Mediterranean and I don’t need to know because I don’t care because they make a mean teacake and support my immediately local economy. They spend with other local business and pay local taxes and I don’t want them to feel like they are not wanted here in My Town, which apparently I get to Take Back now.
I don’t believe I’m alone in this, infact I know I’m not. But get past the remain voters here and look out, past the borders being drafted in a fat red pen in Brussels, and what do they think in the continent? And by ‘them’ I don’t mean the traders and the politicians and the fat cats I mean the man on the street. I mean Juan Bloggs. Does he want to buy English beef when his cousin the nurse got blamed for the collapse of the NHS and abused on a train home to the Cornwall town where she pays tax and goes out for clotted cream teas? Maybe not. And at home in the UK, does Jason Wabnitz want to shell out on cheeses and chutneys from his local farm shop or actually is he just going to wait to get into town and go to that Polish deli instead where he doesn’t have to worry about snidey remarks from some UKIP voting fucknut about why he isn’t at home packing his bags? Do you see where this is going? Do I want to go on holiday to the Welsh coast again and buy their lamb and sausages and support their farmers who mostly voted against what I believe to be the morally, socially and economically responsible action? No. I don’t.
AND I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM.
Derision and anger and prejudice are moving to a point of power in the UK and this has to end lest we revert to some kind of 80s football hooligan movie nightmare, without that dude from Lord of The Rings to make it tolerable.
We need to stop being so pissed off and aggressive, because Brexit is happening. Yes, me too, because whatever happens in the next two years we all live here now and we need to support our country and everyone in it and Brexit is happening.
We need to protect our markets and our farmers and maintain relationships both next door and across the channel because I’m not about to give up decent wine or parmesan cheese. The food and hospitality markets play a MASSIVE part in our economy and our dinners take up a huge amount of space in our hearts. My recently departed Grandmother had a whole lot of generationally stereotypical slanted things to say about people who were black or foreign or (heavens forbid) both but boy did she love a Chinese dinner. There is your in-point to heal. There is your place of compromise because most racists love a kebab and there are no weird EU laws restricting your right to eat fish and chips or chicken tikka massala. So go out and eat at that Greek place and let them know you don’t hate them because the business rates they pay are feeding into the roads you drive on and the schools your kids go to, however over crowded and underperforming Michael Gove has allowed them to become. Pop in to your farm shop for some locally grown apples this autumn instead of supporting price rises and pension cuts in the larger stores (I’m looking at you, M&S). Take down your vote leave signs, round up your namby pamby whinging Remainer buddies and get down to your local pub and thrash this argument out over a couple of pints of Brew Dog or Pucks Folly. Swallow your bile and try very hard to go back to your local fisherman and get a couple of crabs despite him being so proud of being on telly with the fundamental embarrassment to humanity that is Nigel Farage. Ok, maybe you don’t have to do that one.
Let’s be friends. Let’s break bread and try to make the best of all this animosity before more than our pride is irreversibly damaged.
By all means attempt to start a fight in the comments, I will approve anything anyone has to say but am unlikley to respond if you’re a dick about it.