Already British farmers have been forced to leave thousands of pounds worth of vegetables to rot in their fields, because of a drop in the number of farm workers from the European Union (EU).
Farms have been hit with a shortage of the migrant workers that Britain relies on to bring in the fruit and vegetable harvests, according to a series of new reports.
There was a 17% shortfall in May, leaving some farms critically short of pickers, according to a new National Farmers Union (NFU) survey. The decline is blamed on Brexit, with the vote to depart the EU leaving the UK seen as â€œxenophobicâ€� and â€œracistâ€� by overseas workers, according to the director of a major agricultural recruitment company.
The UK requires about 80,000 seasonal workers to pick the vegetable and fruit harvest and virtually all come from eastern Europe. Just 14 of the 13,400 workers recruited between January and May this year were British, the NFU survey found. Three-quarters of the workers came from Bulgaria and Romania, and almost all the rest from other eastern European countries.
The authoritative NFU analysis showed the shortfall in May 2016, before the Brexit referendum, was just 4%. It also showed the proportion of overseas workers choosing to return to the UK has plummeted from two-thirds to one-third since January, meaning valuable experience is being lost.
â€œThe grim reality is that the perception from overseas is we are xenophobic, weâ€™re racist, and the pound has plummeted too,â€� said John Hardman, director at Hops Labour Solutions, who also estimates a 20% shortage of workers. â€œWeâ€™ve gone with Brexit and that makes us look unfriendly.
Fear not because our government have a plan
Prisoners have been suggested as a solution to the post-Brexit labour shortage in a new government strategy.
Outlining the government’s strategy to prevent reoffending, justice secretary David Gauke named horticulture/agriculture as one of five priority sectors as destinations for the rising prison population. Retail, catering/hospitality, construction and manufacturing are the others.
The Education and Employment Strategy aims to boost prisoners’ skills while in custody and improve their chances of securing work on release. It says the priority sectors “present ‘win-win’ opportunities to fill skills gaps and labour shortages for employers, whilst finding sustainable employment for ex-prisoners.”
Horticulture and the other four sectors were targeted as they were deemed most likely to be disposed towards working with prisons, and the government says it will look to build relationships with trade unions and workers’ guilds in those areas.
The government will launch a New Futures Network (NFN) to engage with employers and encourage them to take on prisoners, with experts placed in every geographical prison group.
“Workplace ROTL (Release On Temporary Licence) will be an important tool for building â€˜win-winâ€™ partnerships with employers in priority sectors such as catering, construction and agriculture/horticulture,” the strategy states. “For prisoners, workplace ROTL is a chance to develop their skills, boost their CV and make an impression on potential employers. As such, it is a key tool for prisoner rehabilitation. For employers, these placements provide an opportunity to evaluate the skills and work ethic of the prisoners involved. When successful, this can help fill skills gaps, or labour shortages in the short-term, while developing potential employees in the longer term.”
I wonder what our already poorly paid agriculture workers will feel about their occupation being seen as fit for prisoners ?
Meanwhile of course those who urged us over the Brexit cliff will not be here to see the result of their disastrous campaign
Like First War Generals who carnage as a result of their plans of attack.
Leading Tory Brexiteer Lord Lawson has been branded a “hypocrite” after it emerged he has applied for an official French residency card.
The former Vote Leave chairman, who lives in south-west France, said he had started the paperwork for a “carte de sÃ©jour”, which guarantees the rights of UK citizens by showing they are legally resident in the country.
Lord Lawson insisted that he was not applying for French citizenship and he was “not worried” about his status in the country after Brexit.
And then there this
We will be left to face the result of the Leave campaign , whilst those who led the campaign will be living the high life in their rural idylls in the South of France,