Brexit: UK has put itself in a strong position says Tim Groser
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Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ian Wright chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said there are many difficulties facing the UK. Mr Wright, who classed himself as a “massive Remainer”, said it is “wrong” to blame the UK’s exit from the EU as the sole cause of the supply chain crisis. Asked what he thought of those who claimed Brexit was the cause of the issue, he said: “It’s not just lazy, I think it’s wrong.
“So I was an absolutely massive Remainer and I still think it was an extraordinary decision.
“But there are many of these difficulties that are specifically not the direct result of Brexit. “
Instead, Mr Wright said the number of lorry drivers who have taken early retirement was a major factor in failing to get products in and around the country.
He also claimed an estimate of 400,000 drivers have transferred from traditional work into the new emerging online industry.
A number of drivers have also returned to Europe due to the pandemic and have sort jobs on the continent.
As a final factor, he also warned many students from the continent, work in hospitality while at higher education in the UK.
While this has been caused by a combination of Covid and Brexit, the UK is now more reliant on students from outside of the EU, such as China.
Although admittedly his own estimation, Mr Wright claimed their analysis estimated approximately three million people had left the workforce.
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He concluded: “The important point is very little of that is Brexit related.
“Covid is the reason that people have changed their lifestyles and become economically inactive.
“And Covid to some degree is the accelerator of people moving into the online economy.
“Brexit is probably the reason why some people haven’t come back.
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“And Brexit is probably the reason that our foreign students have changed.
“But that isn’t a sort of total tale of Brexit woe, it’s actually a different story.”
Away from the causes of the labour shortage, Mr Wright also issued a damning warning of the future of the economy.
As retailers and suppliers suffer high costs, inflation rates are predicted to rise.
Indeed, during a select committee hearing this week, Mr Wright informed MPs inflation in hospitality is running between 14 to 18 percent.
He claimed this is a precursor to the wider food and drink industry and must be stopped or it could do severe damage to the economy.
He told MPs: “In hospitality, which is a precursor of retail, inflation is currently running somewhere between 14 percent and 18 percent. That is terrifying.
“Inflation is a bigger scourge than almost anything else because it discriminates against the poor.”
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