Gasoline shortage at gas stations. The army called for strengthening. Removed supermarket shelves. Pig farmers fear that they will have to kill their animals due to the lack of available butchers …
This is a particularly serious week in the UK. But Boris Johnson chose to ignore the gray areas at the Conservative Party’s annual meeting in Manchester on Thursday – the first interview since 2019.
In a speech without concrete statements, the Prime Minister instead painted an optimistic picture of the situation, promising a thriving economy despite the current crises.
The 57-year-old conservative leader said, among other things, that the country was moving towards an “economy with higher wages, higher skills, higher productivity and lower taxes,” but hammered out its new slogan: Equalizing (“Upgrade”).
He admitted that the road was long and “sometimes difficult”, but in 2016 the British voted in the Brexit referendum and were re-elected in 2019 by a large majority.
This is a simple Boris Johnson speech. He ignored any problems that already existed and invited people to move on, telling them that everything would be fine and how much he trusted the British spirit.
Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham
“He gave a great performance, added the expert. But he walks on very thin ice …”
Army as forces
Gasoline and diesel supply problems have been identified in the UK over the past few weeks.
Last Monday, nearly 200 military personnel were called in to drive trucks and fill up petrol pumps, mostly in southern England, as anxious motorists stormed gas stations.
At the problem: a shortage of truckers that lasts for several months due to the mixed effects of COVID-19 and Brexit.
Lockdowns prompted many European drivers to return home, but Brexit complicated immigration procedures for foreign workers seeking to settle in the UK. According to experts, the country typically takes 100,000 extra truckers to “roll”.
This problem also affects supermarkets, fast food restaurants, pubs and bicycle sellers, delays in deliveries and declining stocks.
The meat sector will also be particularly affected, with 15,000 butchers missing, leading to the slaughter of 120,000 pigs in the coming days, the farmer association said.
It is also said that 600 people died last week.
“Great, but empty”
Despite everything, Boris Johnson persevered and signed. Despite being partially responsible for the crisis, he continues to defend the rigidity of the immigration rules enforced by Brexit.
According to him, the country must turn to the “old broken system” based on “low wages, low growth, low qualifications”. He promised that the UK would not return to the level of “uncontrolled immigration” before divorce from the European Union.
As a solution to compensate for the shortage of human resources, Johnson urged British companies to “raise wages” to attract local workers without relying on immigration. Comments that financial groups have responded skeptically.
Business leaders have warned that the solution could lead to higher inflation and ultimately consumers’ costs.
Richard Walker, managing director of the Icelandic supermarket chain, especially accused companies of acting like a “sponge” when they could not “realize all the cost increases from energy bills to fuel bills.” The hiring of additional heavy truck drivers.
The Adam Smith Institute, a think tank, called Boris Johnson’s speech “bombastic, but meaningless and financially ignorant” for its part.
Boris Johnson has been surfing for months with the success of his COVID-19 vaccine campaign, but 67% of the population has been fully vaccinated. The majority of Britons who voted for Brexit also supported him and continued to adhere to his discourse on a strong Britain because it was more sovereign.
But according to Christopher Stafford, it’s too late to capture reality with “BoJo”.
The next few months will be an interesting test as the UK problems are likely to worsen before they improve.
Christopher Stafford, Professor of Politics at the University of Nottingham
“It will be a difficult winter, especially for the working class that Johnson is indebted to for his 2019 election,” he said. It will be interesting to see if Boris Johnson’s rhetoric really works when people start experiencing food shortages, business closures and government cuts in social spending. ”
“People who voted for Johnson still give him the benefit of the doubt,” Steven Fielding concluded.
“They think the country’s problems have nothing to do with Brexit. This situation is temporary. It is a global phenomenon. [dû à la COVID-19]. They live in an artificial paradise. They can change their mind when they see things not going well … ”
With Agencies France-Press