Navigating the Next Phase of Brexit: The Impact on UK’s Food, Health, and Prosperity
Can we ignore the looming scarcity of exquisite artisanal sheep’s milk cheese? Not when it threatens our lifestyle and well-being.
With a chorus urging us to put Brexit in the rearview mirror, it becomes evident that the journey with Brexit isn’t quite over. Far from being a singular, isolated event, Brexit acts more like a chronic illness, incessantly advancing toward its next phase.
By the 31st of October, following four delays to establish proper infrastructure, the UK is bracing to implement checks on imported fresh and chilled food products.
The EU has already enacted similar checks, accompanied by a mountain of paperwork and considerable costs. The repercussions on UK’s fruit exports to the EU are staggering, with the value plummeting from £248.5m in 2021 to a mere £113.8m by 2023, indicating a drop of over 50%.
The Reverse Blow
Now, EU meat producers eager to export to the UK will face similar challenges. They will need to hire a veterinarian to certify their goods, costing up to €700 each time.
Additionally, data entry compliance agents will need to be employed across all sectors, adding an estimated €200 more to the costs.
The paperwork necessitates extensive training and, come January, the border inspection fee of up to £43 for every shipment awaits, irrespective of whether the goods are physically inspected.
Confronted with these challenges, a multitude of small-scale European producers, who have long provided the UK with an extraordinary range of high-quality products, are likely to conclude it’s no longer worth the hassle. The potential effect? Our lives may lose a dash of their vibrancy and richness.
The Stakes of Dietary Change
Disdainful shrugs may follow.
Why should we fret about reduced access to niche sheep’s milk cheeses, or meticulously crafted charcuterie?
As political strategist Nick Timothy, infamous for his botched management of Theresa May’s 2017 election campaign, sarcastically tweeted, “Younger voters might not know this but Britain simply didn’t have food before 1973.”
However, this simplistic view fails to acknowledge a crucial point. EU membership massively elevated the UK’s dietary landscape, enhancing our lives.
It granted unhindered access to an enormous market, including the staples of the celebrated Mediterranean diet. Our dietary habits improved, and any policy leading to a downgrade in our food quality, and subsequently, our lives is undeniably disastrous.
Brexit and the Broader Picture
Undeniably, more pressing issues demand our attention. Brexit has amplified the cost of living crisis and stunted the economy. An alarming number of individuals rely on food banks.
The nation’s health is deteriorating due to insufficient funds for the NHS, a consequence partly attributable to Brexit. However, these issues aren’t disparate; they form part of a continuum, symptoms of a disease gradually debilitating the nation.
Moreover, the issue isn’t confined to the gourmet food market. The Fresh Produce Consortium recently cautioned that the new border regulations would result in delays and add millions to costs amidst a period of severe food inflation.
The British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, concurs, stating, “New checks will add to the various cost pressures retailers are facing at a time when the cost of living is already high.”
Could this have been avoided? Absolutely. The Brexit deal could have entailed an agreement to recognize each other’s food standards, which was a fundamental principle of the EU project.
However, the UK prioritized the freedom to engage in trade deals with third countries, potentially allowing lower standard products than the EU allows.
Thus, we face these detrimental checks. While it’s true that Brexit has transpired, it’s also true that its aftermath continues to unravel. It’s clear that moving on isn’t as simple as it sounds. It’s indeed a conundrum
The post-Brexit saga doesn’t only affect the dietary choices and health of the UK’s population. It is a complex, intertwined beast that impacts every aspect of British life, from the economic prosperity of small businesses to the overall wealth of the nation.
Small businesses, the backbone of the UK economy, especially those dealing with imported products from the EU, are left grappling with additional paperwork, increased costs, and reduced profits.
Consequently, we might witness the demise of several small businesses, dealing a devastating blow to the local economy.
The Unavoidable Health Crisis
With the decline in the variety and quality of available food, the potential health impact on the UK’s population cannot be underestimated.
A decrease in access to diverse, high-quality foods means a decline in the quality of our diets, which can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
As we grapple with the financial burden of Brexit, the National Health Service (NHS) is left struggling for funds. The potential strain this could place on the NHS, especially when coupled with a possible increase in diet-related health issues, creates a daunting scenario.
The Quality of Life Question
Perhaps most importantly, the Brexit impact reaches far beyond the tangible realms of economy and health; it intrudes on the overall quality of life in the UK.
The joy of diverse, quality meals; the reassurance of a robust healthcare system; the comfort of economic stability — all these are integral to a high quality of life. As we face the brunt of the Brexit aftershocks, these aspects are at risk, painting a grim picture of the future.
Despite the insistence of many to “move on,” the reality is that the repercussions of Brexit are far from over. With every new policy, every introduced check, and every added fee, we see a different facet of the Brexit impact.
It’s not merely about moving on. It’s about grappling with the effects of a decision that has shaped — and continues to shape — the very fabric of the UK.
References and Sources: Next phase of Brexit – and it will be bad for our diet, health, and wealth