January 21, 2022

Beyond Going Long

Complete UK News World

A dark shadow hangs over the European scene: a catastrophic expectation!  Head into winter like a nightmare

A dark shadow hangs over the European scene: a catastrophic expectation! Head into winter like a nightmare

This is Britain in 2021, writes news server The New York Times. Until recently, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted all anti-pandemic measures in July, sentiment across the country was reasonably optimistic. The successful vaccination campaign has finally restored the cherished freedoms of everyday life – visiting family and friends, meeting acquaintances and meeting strangers, sitting in cafes and restaurants.

Zdroj: SITA / AP Photo / Alberto Pezzali, Pool, File

Although the number of infected continues to rise, the balance of hospitalization and deaths has fallen sharply. This whole nightmare seemed to be over. But the past few weeks have taken away any sense of life returning to normal again. The dramatic fuel crisis, caused in large part by a shortage of truck drivers, and which closed about a third of all gas stations at its peak, is most surprising.

Long tip before pumping

Zdroj: SITA / AP Photo / Frank Augstein

The interplay of various problems – global gasoline shortages, rising energy and food prices, supply chain problems and the Conservatives’ decision to cut social benefits – casts a bleak shadow over Britain’s future. Even Boris Johnson, known for his boundless optimism and playfulness, finds it difficult to mitigate this situation.

Boris Johnson at the summit

Source: SITA / Peter Nicholls / Pool via AP

Memories of a difficult past

The panic of recent weeks, which stirred old memories of the turmoil of the late 1970s, was by no means unexpected. For months, industry leaders across the economy have warned of a chronic labor shortage. Not only truck drivers, but also fruit pickers, butchers, waiters and healthcare workers.

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The crisis in Britain

Zdroj: SITA / AP Photo / Matt Dunham

Signs of supply chain disruption and its impact on business are everywhere: empty shelves in supermarkets, food spoiling in fields, and more and more message boards highlighting vacancies in storefronts and restaurants. Meat manufacturers have even demanded that the government allow them to employ prisoners.

The crisis in Britain

Zdroj: SITA / AP Photo / Frank Augstein

One of the main reasons for this difficult situation is Brexit, or at least the way the government handled it. Britain delayed Brexit, which happened without any real effort by Boris Johnson to ensure a smooth transition. This led to the exodus of European workers, which was exacerbated by the pandemic. From July 2019 to September 2020, up to 1.3 million foreigners left Britain.

Long tip before pumping

Zdroj: SITA / AP Photo / Frank Augstein

However, even as it became clear that Britain faced a significant labor shortage, the Conservatives refused to respond. They had empty political speeches and described everything as a “fabricated situation”. They tainted them and reassured them there was nothing to worry about.

And when they realized they had the opportunity to pass their negligence on as a favour, they began to argue that the reason they could not act was in fact forcing companies to pay more British employees, rather than relying on cheap foreign power.

The argument for inaction is unconvincing. In the Netherlands, for example, a new law has improved payment and working conditions for truck drivers. In Britain, conditions are still among the worst in Europe. The government’s offer of 5,000 temporary visas for drivers from EU countries came too late and insufficient.

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Heating or food?

Instead of higher wages, the British public has so far only faced higher prices. Inflation has risen faster than at any time since 1997. Rising fuel prices continue to weigh on people’s lives, and energy in Britain is more expensive than anywhere else in Europe.

Long tip before pumping

Zdroj: SITA / Dominic Lipinski / PA via AP

While other governments, such as Spain and Italy, have taken care to protect needy families from rising costs, conservatives have shown no such leniency. Three million families in Britain are already living in “fuel poverty”, when they have to decide whether to smoke or eat in the winter. After the Conservatives raised the cap on energy prices this month, the number is expected to rise by another half a million.

The crisis in Britain

Zdroj: SITA / AP Photo / Frank Augstein

However, Boris Johnson claims to have given British Conservatives a more friendly face. He enthusiastically talks about upgrading and “starting up” societies that are lagging behind. But his government’s behavior is not commensurate with that.

Long tip before pumping

Zdroj: SITA / AP Photo / Frank Augstein

200,000 children below the poverty line

By the end of September, it had completed a program that compensated people for up to 80 percent of the income lost during the pandemic. And on October 6, the Conservatives will cut Britain’s universal social benefit, the so-called Universal Credit, by £20 (€23) a week – at a time when more people are dependent on it than ever before.

The crisis in Britain

Zdroj: SITA / AP Photo / Frank Augstein

It is the single largest reduction in social benefits in British history and is estimated to push another half a million people below the poverty line – including 200,000 children. The newly introduced €500 million (€583.7 million) Winter Emergency Aid Fund will find it difficult to cushion the effects of a 12-fold increase.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Zdroj: SITA / Daniel Leal-Olivas / Pool Photo via AP

But Boris Johnson is unlikely to accept the consequences of his actions. His government, based on a comfortable majority, remains secure. In addition, he himself can masterfully use crises as new opportunities. He is able to adapt and not bear the burden of a sense of responsibility or honesty, so he thrives in adverse conditions. The rest of the country will not be so lucky anymore.