The indicators of the British economic crisis are visible to all. The highest inflation in 40 years. The cost of energy skyrocketing. Working families starting to go hungry. And although the war in Ukraine and the pandemic have contributed to worsening the situation, it is inevitable to note, 3 years after the official exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the problems caused by “Brexit” far outweigh the benefits that its promoters had promised.
After the 2016 referendum in which almost 52% of voters voted in favor of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the separation entered into force on 31 January 2020. Now many Britons think it was a mistake, while the end of free movement has impacted both the labor market and the importation of goods.
In the City of London, one of the most important financial districts in the world, the difficulties in importing foodstuffs and in finding suitable professionals have been particularly acute after leaving the EU. In Hispania, a traditional Spanish restaurant serving at least 400 dishes, including tapas, hams and main courses, 20% increase in food prices and their importation forced them to resort to other solutions.
“The fish we import requires some documentation. Since we don’t want to risk being detained, because that’s when the fish starts losing its useful life, we now buy it from fishmongers in London,” said Hispania manager, Javier Fernández , on Radio France International (RFI).
Added to this is the lack of staff which further complicates the operation of the restaurant. “We are authorized by the government to be able to apply for visas. We are a restaurant very focused on Spanish gastronomy and wines, which is why we need people who know about these products, but it is very expensive and it is a very complicated process. It is difficult to get it going , so we prefer to continue to manage a little with the options we have here,” explains Fernández.
Shortage of personnel and materials
The staff shortage is not limited to the hospitality sector. A ten minute walk from the Hispania restaurant, also in the City, the Mexican dentist Gina Vega tells of the difficulties in finding a nurse.
“Last year we were late up to six months in finding a good nurse who was qualified and had the work ethic we were looking for. Now, for example, one of our nurses has decided to change professions and we’ve been looking for someone for three months with no luck,” says Vega.
Essentials for dentistry They are difficult to obtain due to new import procedures. “There is a lot of material or brands of materials that come from Germany, Switzerland or other parts of Europe. We have access to the material but not the variety we had before,” she completes.
according to the newspaper Financial Times, due to Brexit, more than 300,000 people are said to have disappeared from the country’s workforce. King’s College London expert Jonathan Portes believes so the UK is no longer an attractive employment destination for Europeans for the end of free movement.
tiredness and regret
The inhabitants of Grays, a town 30 kilometers east of London, voted overwhelmingly in favor of Brexit. In the borough of Thurrock, where Grays is the largest town with approximately 75,000 inhabitants, 72.3% of voters did so in favor of Brexit in the 2016 referendum. This makes it the fourth of the 382 countries that voted the most to leave the European Union (EU).
Three years after the departure, however, the situation appears radically different.
“I voted for Brexit, but I regret“, admits Maria Yvars, a 42-year-old psychotherapist, who says she feels cheated by politicians. “They didn’t give us all the data (…) they sold us something that didn’t exist“He adds, lamenting that” this country is now like a ship without a captain.
Thurrock, a former industrial area on the Thames estuary which has been able to attract many emigrants from Eastern Europe, is a region that has been suffering for years and the current crisis, with inflation above 10%, only makes things worse: after a series of disastrous investments, the city council filed for bankruptcy in December.
According to a YouGov poll released in November, support for leaving the EU has never been lower. Less than a third of Britons think it was a good decision. One in five of those who voted for it has changed their mind.
In Grays, most of the AFP passersby who tried to interview turned away as soon as the word “Brexit” was said, perhaps out of exhaustion. “I don’t care,” answered the more polite one.
“What did Brexit supporters expect??” launched an employee of the NHS, the public health system subjected to enormous pressure for years of austerity, in favor of remaining in the European bloc. “We have lost EU funding!”
Saving the NHS was one of the promises of Brexit. “We send the EU 350 million pounds a week. Instead we finance the NHS”, read in 2016 on the red buses of the pro Brexit campaign.
But now the health system is on its last legs, and in December nurses went on a nationwide strike without precedent in the country.
Source: AFP and RFI
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.