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Six Brexit problems six years after the EU vote

Written by Javed Iqbal

It is six years today – 23 June – after the EU referendum in 2016, and Brexit has been delivered. But not everything is necessarily good.

A poll conducted by Savanta ComRes in October showed that only 36 percent believe the project has been a success, while 52 percent considered it a failure.

Here are six of the biggest persistent problems Brexit has caused to mark six years since the big vote.

1) Food rots in Britain’s fields

There has been a shortage of seasonal workers

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The end of free movement has made it harder and more bureaucratic for seasonal farm workers to visit Britain, so many have cut it out of their annual schedule.

British residents have shown little interest in carrying out the piecework work on British farms, so thousands of tonnes of crops rotted in fields during Britain’s picking season this year.

Tory MP Roger Gale, who represents the Thanet community, is among the conservatives sounding the alarm. He told the Prime Minister in Parliament that a grower in his constituency had had to throw away hundreds of thousands of pounds of products.

Ministers say the Ministry of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Labor and Pensions are launching a campaign “to raise awareness of career opportunities” in crop picking among UK workers.

But there seems to have been little success so far, with growers having reduced production for the coming season for fear they will not be able to harvest what they plant.

Food industry leaders have warned that the situation will almost certainly worsen unless the government immediately extends a pilot scheme that allowed 30,000 temporary workers this year.

The National Farmers’ Union has called on ministers to allow at least another 50,000 foreign workers to pick crops and tens of thousands more to process them.

2) Rising inflation

Inflation is at its highest in four decades (Dominic Lipinski / PA)

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The UK is seen as an “outlier” in the financial world for its particularly high inflation, with analysts blaming Brexit.

While the cost of living crisis has many causes, it is only in the UK that there are such severe price increases. ONS confirmed on Wednesday that annual inflation is now on record 9.1 pct.

Citigroup, Bank of America and Standard Bank are among US financial institutions warning this week that UK inflation will be higher in the coming years due to immigration controls and a lack of supply chains.

“Inflation in the UK will be more sticky in the medium to long term due to Brexit,” said Vasileios Gkionakis, head of European currency strategy at Citigroup.

A report from the London School of Economics published in April showed that new trade barriers have driven a 6 per cent. increase in UK food prices – one of the contributing factors to rising inflation.

3) British fisherman faces ruin

The British fishing industry said the Brexit deal was a betrayal

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New bureaucracy introduced by Brexiteers has hurt Britain’s fishing industry, with some long-standing companies being forced to close due to the extra costs left by the EU.

The situation is particularly difficult for seafood exporters, who face not only new paperwork and catch certificates, but delays at the border that can ruin and all time-sensitive shipments.

Boris Johnson has blamed exporters for not filling out forms correctly. Some seafood exports to the EU are also now completely banned.

The fisheries chiefs described the Brexit agreement as a “betrayal” that did not secure many promised benefits.

4) Meltings at UK airports

Airport travelers face extended disruptions and long queues

(Simon Calder)

As Covid travel restrictions are lifted and international travel returns, another Brexit problem arises: airport chaos.

Broadly hidden during the pandemic, airlines now say they do not have enough staff to meet the rising demand, saying the EU’s exit is to blame.

Aviation executives like Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said the chaos was “completely to do with Brexit”.

As in so many other sectors, the disruption appears to be caused by labor shortages. Jobs were cut under Covid due to lower demand for two years: but now the aviation industry can not recruit.

Steve Heapy, CEO of the airline Jet2, said the EU withdrawal had taken “hundreds of thousands, if not millions” of people out of the labor market.

The government blames the poor management of airlines, but the mayor of London Sadiq Khan said ministers had to ensure that “those who were in these jobs before, who have returned to their country of origin in the EU, are encouraged to return”.

5) Lack of truck drivers

Freight cars and trucks lined up on the M20 towards Dover

(AFP via Getty Images)

The government was forced to launch an emergency visa scheme for truck drivers last year after the country faced a shortage of 100,000 people in truck drivers.

While the shortage has many causes, changes to the rules after Brexit made it harder for drivers to work in the UK, and customs procedures are said to have made their work more complicated – leading many to simply work elsewhere.

From May 2022, Logistics UK says the number of truck drivers in employment is still falling, but “is not falling as markedly as in recent quarters”. The industry group hopes that this means that the problem can be solved soon.

6) Mobile roaming charges are making a comeback

UK travelers will have to pay roaming charges again

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Anyone who has gotten used to using their phone abroad in recent years will get a shock.

Roaming charges were abolished by the EU in June 2017, but they have made a big comeback since Britain left the bloc.

Tre, EE and Vodafone have all announced that they will bring roaming charges back.

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Javed Iqbal

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