Can well-mannered, law-abiding and God-fearing gentlemen punch and kick each other while rolling on the pavement outside a petrol station?
They might if they queue all morning for petrol just to make sure the tanks are empty and no supplies are forthcoming. And if the matter takes place in Britain, which is looking for a new role after the triumph of the local separatists who arranged the exit (Brexit) from Europe.
The ugly scene involving 8-10 angry men was described on Twitter by Briton Danny Altman. It’s not a pretty picture of morals gone bad for islanders facing fuel shortages that led him to conclude, “I’m now officially in post-Brexit wild-West.
An exaggeration, of course. Britain is a long way from having the morals of hip-shooting American cowboys triumphant. The fuel supply disruption is merely due to the exodus of petrol tanker drivers from the continent who have not accepted the worsening of their working conditions. The government has issued a firestorm of three-month entry visas for 5,000 heavy goods vehicle drivers from across the Channel. However, the visas are temporary and will not help plug the gap. Britain is short about 100,000 drivers.
The problem is massive. As Andrew Opay, a senior official at the British Retail Consortium, explained, “drivers are the glue which holds our supply chains together”.
Attacks from all sides
Other sectors of the British economy are feverish. There are not enough slaughterhouse workers to dress the animals and there is no one to skin the 120,000 pigs prepared for slaughter. Local cassandras are scaring their fellow citizens that this year there will not even be a Christmas turkey on the table.
The hotel business, which has lost its salaried employees, is in turmoil. The reason was the government’s directive not to let those classified as “low-skilled workers” into the country. Captains of the hospitality industry claim that their business is not low-skilled labour and cite the professions of chef and sommelier as proof.
The origin of the shortage in the British job market is that the lockdowns triggered by the “pandemic” have undermined the health of the catering and hospitality industries. Overall, around 1.3 million guest workers have “moved out” of the British Isles and returned home. In July and August, one million job vacancies were registered.
In addition to the sagging labour market, there was a shortage of essential goods. The official wording is meant to reassure: “supply chain crisis”. There is a shortage of carbon dioxide, disgusting to environmentalists, but necessary for the cooling of meat, as well as for the production of soft drinks and, most importantly, the British elixir of peace – beer.
GPs sending patients for blood tests are sounding the alarm – there are no test tubes. They are shipped mainly by the American company Becton Dickinson, meaning they are imported goods. The overseas company explained the supply disruption: “There have been transport problems due to both the ports and the volume of cargo, the chartering of aircraft, as well as difficulties in crossing the British border.” This is what post-Brexit looks like.
Most sensitive to the well-being of the British economy and households, however, has been the unprecedented surge in the cost of electricity. In the last 12 months, the price per megawatt hour has risen almost sevenfold. The rush for urgently needed natural gas, triggered by the reliance on solar and wind power, has led to a full-blown crisis.
The “invisible hand of the market” is unable to make up for the lack of the most important bloodstream of the economy – energy – overnight. The continent’s underground gas storage facilities are emptying at a foxtrot pace. Qatari and American LNG have routinely rushed into premium Asian markets, where there has been a steady climb. The quarrel between Algeria and Morocco and the continuing internal strain in Libya are depriving Europe of a steady supply of North African hydrocarbons through the bottom pipelines. Norway has natural limits for boosting production from its old, slowly depleting North Sea fields.
Meanwhile Gazprom, as the only potential saviour of the European chemical industry, CHP and households, continues to be discriminated against in total disregard for the “sacred” principles of the free market.
Thatcher’s shadow peeked from behind the cloud
In a fuel crisis, Boris Johnson’s government has little choice. Coal-fired power stations have been unleashed. But the European coal market is hysterical, prices have soared, offers are few and far between and no new suppliers are in sight. Two British energy companies, Avro Energy and Green Supplier, which served more than 800,000 customers, have gone bust.
When asked during an interview, Prime Minister Boris Johnson (BoJo) did not deny that the huge pile of social and economic problems that suddenly cropped up was the result of Britain leaving the European Union. True, he claimed that everything is going according to plan and that queues at petrol stations and the flushing out of foreign workers is an inevitable process of restructuring, meaning getting rid of the pernicious economic model based on low wages.
A third person in his cabinet, Foreign Minister Liz Truss, sums up the ideology of doing nothing: “I don’t be lieve in a command-and-control economy” – we have everything built on free enterprise. Therefore the First Minister cannot be blamed for the shortage of resources and manpower, let business deal with it.
The logic of Liz Truss and BoJo is reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s explanation at the time when she undertook to redesign Britain’s entire socio-economic order under the slogan “Survival of the fittest”. The Iron Lady then declared to her fellow citizens with unashamed bluntness: before there is good, there is bad.
The first part of the prophecy did not come true. The de-industrialisation of the former workshop of the world, the purchase of its industrial assets by Germans and even Indians, the swelling of the financial sector with the hypertrophy of speculative capital and offshoring – all together, Britain was on a downward trajectory. Brexit has only accelerated the decline.
The secret meaning of Brexit?
To the credit and dignity of the British Isles’ inhabitants is their ability to cope with the vicissitudes of fate with stoicism and a sense of humour. Here are a couple of comments from Londoners: “It’s not that bad. I couldn’t buy bread and milk today but I can live on chocolate bars”. Or, “Yeah, I couldn’t get any petrol. But that’s okay, I decided to skip work anyways today. But by and large, the British are not in the mood for jokes.
How, then, can one explain the equanimity of the powers that be? Perhaps Boris Johnson foresaw a Hamletian sea of troubles, but saw it as collateral damage when the status, role and place of Britain in the world changed?
What are we talking about? According to the eccentric left-wing prophet-blogger Umar Haq, “Britain will eventually become like the 51st state of America. Its NHS and BBC will become the property of American hedge funds, its people will be fed on American food and its citizens’ minds will be poisoned by American rubbish culture.”
More significant is another conclusion of the sarcastic blogger: “Britain today has only one chance left – to be Americanised. This has always represented the final stage of Brexit – to sell Britain off to American capital with its guts.”
It may be doubted whether the ruling class of the former Lord of the Seas would agree to step aside. Nevertheless, at a time when regionalization argues with globalization and the trend towards the formation of closed territorial alliances is taking shape, it is precisely as a junior partner or even as an informal dominion of the United States that Britain has a chance to remain a leader among the “golden billion” countries.
In such a context, the severing of trade and economic ties with continental Europe and the Brexiteers’ hasty secession take on the character of a multi-pronged strategy. Its end result could be the formation of an institutionalised Anglo-Saxon alliance headed by the “Big Two” – the US and Britain.
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