The word is that a meal out will probably be limited to significant calendar events. And sadly, our team are probably a reasonable weathervane for the whole country. While the jury is still out as to whether inflation is sustainably decreasing, what is clear is for many, the cost-of-living crisis will hit even harder in the next six months. And while its causes are multi factorial, Brexit also continues to play its part. But this massive own goal was avoidable.
Yet whatever their hue, our politicians are at best reluctant to focus and tell the truth to the electorate about the adverse effect of Brexit upon our economy and our hospitality sector. It’s official from the Office for National Statistics that Brexit has shrunk our GDP by at least 4% (even ignoring the adverse effects of Covid). Yet how many Leavers / those on the red wall know or rather admit to this? And therefore, why aren’t Labour and the Lib Dems calling out Brexit and questioning:
- why, according to the London School of Economics, food inflation has been 25 % since 2019 but if without Brexit trade barriers would have been 19%?
- why has the UK voter paid an extra £7bn so far to cover the cost of EU trade food trade barriers (ignoring the additional £48bn exit penalty fee being paid to the EU under the Boris ‘oven ready’ deal)?
- why hospitality sector labour costs have been significantly impacted by the 200,000 plus Europeans who have returned home post-Brexit?
- why the UK economy teeters upon recession when Ireland’s predicted growth rate is some 5%?
And even though polls now confirm only 32% of the UK now back Brexit, our politicians are still cowed into silence, frightened by the power and potential assault of the right-wing tabloid press and Daily Telegraph. Boris Johnson once admitted that The Daily Telegraph determined his political agenda! Enough said?
It’s quite depressing that none of the parties are offering any solution to the continuing UK labour shortages and the shallow and disproportionate ‘debate over "stop the boats" sums up why. No party is prepared to admit the UK economy needs more immigration – even though the thankfully short-lived Truss/Kwarteng plan conceded more immigration would be our best spur to economic growth.
So, after Covid, then the energy crisis then the cost-of-living crisis, it’s now time for our sector to batten down the hatches yet again. This is wearisome of course, but we need to help ourselves please by doing our bit by calling out our local MP candidates over Brexit in the pending 2024 General Election.
Ask them, please, how they plan to fill all those so many vacancies in hospitality, in our hospitals and in our care homes. We, as a hospitality sector should be far more vocal. At least Tom Kerridge has bravely called out Brexit for what it is (“ There’s not one good thing about Brexit for my industry “) and in particular how the Brexit visa scheme just isn't working – it’s a bureaucratic, inflexible and very costly process than just is not producing the labour that our sector, our economy and our country desperately needs. Good on you Tom! The rest of us now need to follow Tom’s example. Silence is not golden.