The Germans could not hide their delight. According to Olaf Scholz, a socialist poised to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor, we can blame the shortage of truck drivers, our half-empty supermarkets and closed gas stations right at the feet of Brexit.
Some may describe this as “gloating” – taking pleasure in the unhappiness of others. This is, of course, a German word.
But Mr Scholz’s assessment is shared by an alarming number of people in the UK. People who should know better.
Everywhere we look, industrial captains are demanding that we reopen the doors to the cheap foreign labor that has done so much damage to our self-sufficiency.
The bosses were helped in this by the Labor Party, which, instead of taking the chance to raise wages for local workers, turned its back on them and demands the return of free movement of people to the EU. Not to mention the devastating long-term consequences.
According to Olaf Scholz (pictured), a socialist poised to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor, we can blame the shortage of truck drivers, our half-empty supermarkets and closed gas stations right at the feet of Brexit.
Part of the state reserve tanker fleet based at a depot in Fenstenton, Cambridgeshire. Military drivers will be dispatched to deliver fuel to gas stations from Monday as the pumping crisis continues.
The main advocate of the low-wage economy is Rod Mackenzie, the BBC’s chief executive who has become managing director of the trucking industry trade body, the Trucking Association.
Brexit made British Continental truck drivers feel insecure about their jobs and made them think, “Maybe Britain is not for us,” he said. So they went.
Seventy percent of RHA members wanted to leave the EU, but the Mackenzie Association lobbied for the softest of the softest Brexits with maximum rights for Polish and Bulgarian drivers to undermine our own.
Not that Mackenzie’s voice is lonely. The Remain lobby is vicious and powerful even now. The fuel crisis is an all too useful shroud that is being vigorously waved.
They always said that little old Britain just couldn’t hack it alone in the dark post-Brexit world, that the exodus of truckers and fruit pickers would bring us to our knees, and it did.
This is, of course, grotesquely wrong. Yes, we are missing about 75,000 truck drivers. But the EU also lacks some 400,000 drivers who will be lacking in Mr Scholz’s favorite freedom of movement: one truck driver moving to Hamburg means one fewer left in Warsaw.
Germany needs another 60,000 heavy truck drivers, while Poland is testing a whopping 120,000 drivers.
Indeed, if we look at the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, a different picture emerges. Because while we have lost 12,700 EU truckers on our roads, the real damage has been the loss of some 55,000 UK truck drivers since the first quarter of 2020.
This is, of course, grotesquely wrong. Yes, we are missing about 75,000 truck drivers. But the EU also lacks some 400,000 drivers who will be lacking in Mr Scholz’s favorite freedom of movement: one truck driver moving to Hamburg means one fewer left in Warsaw. Pictured: A queue of trucks at the Port of Dover in December 2020.
And why don’t British truckers want to drive on British roads?
The answers, unfortunately, are obvious: scandalously low, irregular pay; long periods of family absence; a despotic bureaucracy inspired by the EU; restrictive and unpleasant shift regimes; it is expected to have to sleep in a cab instead of having access to decent accommodations; shameful disrespect.
In other words, all the ramifications of the bargain dog transport industry getting permission for such abuse of British workers due to the influx of drivers from lower wage EU countries. Is it any surprise that over 230,000 fully qualified heavy truck license holders are no longer working in the trucking business?
And these are only those who are under 45 years old. If only a third of them decided to return, the UK deficit would disappear.
However, for a large part of the British economic and political establishment, Brexit remains unacceptable. For them, this is an alarming manifestation of the political will of the people, which has overcome all threats, all persuasions and all obstacles.
More than five years have passed since the majority of the electorate decided – by an overwhelming majority – that they wanted to leave the EU. But the establishment still doesn’t understand this. Take Labor leader Keir Starmer. He is every inch a figure of the alienated metropolitan elite, shocked and embarrassed by the perversion of voters who decided they wanted to leave.
In 2016, a huge chunk of what was then Labor’s heart decided they wanted to leave. In 2019, they went even further and expelled dozens of Labor MPs from supposedly safe Red Wall constituencies in the North.
Few doubt that they were prompted by Boris Johnson’s promise to “end Brexit.” Nonetheless, at a Labor conference last week, Sir Keir solemnly assured his capricious party that he would “make Brexit work” as if Brexit was something that had been forcibly imposed on a resisting country.
And what exactly does he mean? Most of us might reasonably conclude that Sir Keir’s plan for the future includes a diluted form of EU membership, restoring freedom of movement, vaunted by Mr Scholz, and returning tens of thousands of EU workers at discounted prices. He clearly did not notice the rebalancing in the transport industry.
However, at a Labor conference last week, Sir Keir solemnly assured his capricious party that he would “ make Brexit work, ” as if Brexit were something that was forcibly imposed on a resisting country.
In many cases, the wages of truck drivers rise substantially. British drivers can now demand higher wages, and employers, although sometimes reluctant, agree to do so. This is the old law of supply and demand.
If this law continues to operate as it has for centuries, we will see a significant number of missing 230,000 truck license holders return to the industry.
The same will eventually apply to the entire economy, especially those vital occupations that – thanks in large part to the indulgence of a comfortable elite – we have come to ignore as suitable only for ordinary immigrants. For them, Brexit will indeed work very well, and Sir Keir won’t have to worry about it.
It is the same with the hundreds of thousands of British workers in many other sectors of our economy who have disproportionately relied on the continental labor force: butchers, fruit pickers, nurses, cooks, slaughterhouses.
Of course, this will not happen overnight. And some short-term disruptions like we’ve seen in the past few weeks are inevitable.
It has always been assumed that the end of a relationship that has prevailed for nearly half a century would cause a certain amount of turbulence.
But one thing is certain: British workers can now demand the right market price for the important work they do, as well as acceptable modern working conditions.
And British employers will have to pay at this rate and provide such conditions. The decent ones will do it because Brexit is a revolution, albeit a very British one.
Quiet, patient, simple people of this country spoke.
Sooner or later – and I suspect very soon – Sir Keir, the British establishment and their continental counterparts, including Mr. Scholz, will simply have to listen.