VIDEO. Great Britain: after Brexit, will there be turkeys for Christmas… and pumpkins for Halloween?

A two and a half hour drive north of London, a team of “Special Envoy” stopped in the middle of the English countryside, in a pumpkin patch. Soon Halloween … But this year, the picking promises to be compromised.

Since Brexit, it was impossible to call on the Bulgarian seasonal workers who usually worked here. “There is a dire shortage of manpower, in all sectors, across the country, explains a farmer. There have never been so many vacancies. Who is going to pick up the vegetables in the rain, when you can find a warm job in a store?

Fruits and vegetables that rot on the stalk because they are not harvested

Did his compatriots who voted in favor of Brexit have thought of this type of consequence? “No, answers Henry Bloxham, I don’t think they realized how many Eastern European workers were working in agriculture. ”

Under the cumulative effect of Covid and Brexit, 1,300,000 foreign workers have left the country. Across England, fruits and vegetables are rotting on the stalk, failing to be harvested. Consumers do not notice it yet, but producers are on the alert.

Christmas turkey might not be British …

Paul Kelly is at the head of a family turkey farm, which has become a flourishing SME – in particular thanks to the European workforce. But this year, as Christmas is fast approaching, the breeder is not sure what to do with his 1,500 turkeys. Because to pluck them, he needs about sixty full-time people, in November and December. Like a thousand other producers, he explains. Without counting “large industrial farms which, for their part, need thousands of workers“.

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So, will there be turkey at Christmas? Yes, reassures us Paul Kelly, but it will not be British, he thinks: “Supermarkets will buy them in France, Poland, Germany … Last year, we had British turkeys, now we are going to bring them from Europe! Because we took the workers we had, we sent them back there, and we will bring the products back here …“He, too, doesn’t think this is the Brexit that some had promised voters …”No, that’s not what people voted for!

Extract from “Shortages: the reverse of Brexit?”, a report to see in “Special Envoy” on October 14, 2021.

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