Mr Johnson warned that the supply disruptions could last until Christmas, although on Tuesday the most acute problems at gas stations began to ease. The government is hoping normal buying habits will resume now that nervous buyers have filled their tanks.
This is not the first trade disruption to hit Britain since leaving the single market in 2020. British shellfish producers have lost entire markets in the European Union due to new health regulations. British consumers have been rocked by high tariffs on gourmet coffee shipments from Italy.
But this is the first disruption to occur since life returned to some semblance of normalcy after 18 months of restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Schools are open; workers go to the office; The sports stadiums are packed on weekends. In this sense, it is the first post-Brexit crisis that has not been masked by the effects of the coronavirus.
It is also geographically selective. Gas stations in Northern Ireland, which has an open border with the Republic of Ireland (a member of the European Union), are not reporting panic shopping. Likewise, Northern Ireland was not affected by the recent carbon dioxide supply shortage as its soda ash bottling plants had access to shipments from mainland Europe.
And yet, Brexit has featured remarkably little in the public debate. This partly reflects a pandemic hangover. This is in part because other countries, from Germany to the United States, are also facing supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and rising prices of gasoline. oil and gas.
But it also reflects the calcified nature of the debate over Britain’s exit from the European Union. After four and a half years of bickering, even the most ardent Brexit opponents are showing little appetite to question the 2016 referendum. And Brexiteers invariably find other culprits for the bad news.