One has to ‘admire’ the shear bravado of taking hold of the forecast shortages that were denounced by Johnson as nonsense and ‘project fear’ prior to Brexit, and repackaging them as actually part of the Conservative grand plan to reform the economy.
Business was supposed to anticipate these problems and ‘kick the habit’ of cheap immigrant labour! Though as Johnson gave no hint of his Brexit deal until it actually happened, business had no opportunity to prepare. Indeed government itself is still leaving EU imports completely unchecked – because it did not prepare.
It is not much of a plan though because never mind the nurses, 2.6 million public-sector workers’ pay has been frozen – or are their wages now also to go up?
Higher distribution costs, which are an inevitable consequence of the HGV driver shortage will affect every aspect of the economy and will be inflationary.
Energy costs are rising sharply – these too affect the entire economy.
If we are to become as Johnson wants, a ‘high wage economy’ everyone may be wanting higher wages very soon – and who can blame them?
And all this on the very day his government reduces the Universal Credit payment by £20 a week because it is ‘unaffordable’, yet businesses, many of which are now having to repay Covid bank loans are supposed happily also to be paying higher wages all round.
(Of course, Johnson isn’t alone in his blind disregard for anyone else, another Tory MP chose the day of the Universal Credit cut to complain how difficult it was to live on an MP’s salary of £81,932.)
Meanwhile, Britain now has the lowest basic rate of welfare support it has ever had since 1990.
Johnson’s is a plan that makes no possible sense, except, perhaps to the Conservative Party conference hall.
Inflation is going to be ‘baked in’ and whilst an increase in distribution charges is probably overdue, energy price rises are imported inflation over which government has little or no control.
And when the UK is a country so dependent on imports, there is now the future prospect of an exchange rate collapse.
If sterling gets weaker still there is the worrying scenario of even more imported inflation.
Johnson’s plan to reform the economy, if it is a plan at all, is certainly one for complete economic mismanagement.
Project fear here we come…