If nothing else, the prospect of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit is proving manna from heaven for newspapers and media websites. The advertising clicks are soaring as the latest twist or turn during the negotiations between the British government and the EU is presented as a shambles, irrespective of whether it actually is or not.
Nonetheless, the retailers chimed into stoke the fires of panic, raising the prospect of tariffs on some of our favourite foods. According to the British Retail Consortium, the voice of the high street, there will be 15.5% on apples, 40% on beef, 42% tariff on imported cheddar, 46% on mozzarella and 21% on tomatoes.
That was reaffirmed by Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, who told the National Farmers Union that their concerns about the need for strong protections to be put in place.
“You have argued that we need tariffs on sheep meat, beef, poultry, dairy, both milk and cheese, and pig meat in order to safeguard our valuable domestic production,” he told them, before adding “Your concerns have absolutely been heard.”
Not only will the tariffs be imposed, but money will also be poured into sensitive industries to prop them up in difficult times. Irish farmers sounded the warning klaxon for their industry, calculating the annual tariff bill to be in the region of €2bn per annum.
That’s one side of the coin but what about shortages? Will the government bring back rationing? Betfair putting petrol and diesel at the top of the list, 4/1 to be the first commodity to be limited. Be ready for the news headlines to show pictures of queues for miles at the petrol pumps.
While British farmers can keep supplies going, there will, the scaremongering goes, be shortages of produce in the shops. Dairy farmers are placed under the most pressure with Milk 11/1 second favourite to be rationed. But it’s a general dairy shortage which is causing the most fear with cheese 18/1 and butter 20/1 respectively.
There’s going to a run of dad’s popping off to work having poured Stella Artois over their cornflakes.
Meat is Murder
However, there are reports that Irish dairy exporters hoarding their products just in case.
Meat shortages will become the norm with beef (20/1), pork, (33/1) and chickens (66/1) among those creatures to be saved. Which is great if you’re Mabel, Babe or Foghorn Leghorn; not so great if you’re a greasy spoon owner.
You won’t even be able to get fish fingers with your beans, mushrooms and black pudding; fish is 25/1 to be rationed. Tomatoes are 25/1 as well, so none of those grilled on your plate. Nor Ketchup either…
Could we become a nation of vegans as a result of rationing? Some might argue that would be no bad thing although the increased methane around the world from cattle is not necessarily as good for the planet as it might seem.
There are some obvious problem products. Supermarket shelves are filled with the best chorizo, prosciutto and jamon serrano; not forgetting Danish bacon either.
However, the government isn’t expected to add this to the list of rationed items. Olive oil substitutes abound which is useful since the odds of its being restricted are just 16/1, which is just as well since the bread you need to dip into it is the same price to be rationed. I do realise that came across as terribly Islington set, whose supplies of champagne and derivatives cava and prosecco are in the same boat, albeit the one marked 125/1.
Which leaves us with the Essentials
I can probably live without the Mars Bars (150/1) because let’s face it, Mars has been rationing them anyway. The current model is nowhere near as big as when I was a kid. That used to be able to help you work, rest and play. Now, it barely gets to rest…
The real problems begin when everyone’s dose of caffeine is restricted. Office relations are going to nosedive when coffee (20/1) is in short supply. It’s not as if we’re going to be able to replace it with wine (33/1 for red and white) with gin at 50/1.
But Magnums? Seriously? Won’t anybody think of the children!?!