Shortage of fruit pickers leads to desperate appeal for the same migrants the government has been trying to remove
Despite spending the last three years telling foreigners to bugger off, Boris Johnson is now pleading for them to return.
The UK has found itself struggling to find some 70,000 fruit and vegetable pickers to harvest this year’s crops. For some reason, the government didn’t have the foresight to anticipate there might be a shortage of migrant workers after introducing a new immigration bill aimed at keeping foreign workers out.
In a rare appearance at a coronavirus briefing, the prime minister asked for workers to return to the UK whilst simultaneously announcing that all new arrivals would be subject to a 14 day quarantine period.
Add this to the fact that the UK has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in Europe, it’s hardly surprising that foreign workers aren’t queuing to come to the UK to work.
When asked by an Italian journalist about migrant workers hoping to come back to the UK after lockdown, Johnson said: “What I’d say to our Italian friends, Italians who want to come back in the UK is ‘come back. Tutti benvenuti!
“Come back to London or the UK, but you’ve got to quarantine, everybody has been lockdown for a long time, I know it’s an imposition but we’ve really got to defeat this virus. But we want you back.”
Except that is, when he decides that the government's had enough of them. Just ask the Windrush generation.
In April, the government thought it would be a laugh to advertise the minimum-wage, back breaking work on television to try to encourage furloughed British workers to apply. The advertisement was designed to appeal to the British spirit and sense of duty in order to encourage applicants.
Unsurprisingly, the British public showed the true meaning of being British and quietly pretended they hadn’t seen the ad, while taking their 80 per cent furloughed government wage payments and complaining that they couldn’t get a supermarket delivery slot.
Who the government expects to pick fruit once the UK leaves the EU is a problem Leave voters decided to ignore long before the immigration bill was introduced and the pandemic arrived.
The ones hardest hit will be the farmers and producers who will be watching on in horror as their crops go to waste while imported fruit and veg hits the supermarket shelves. Low income families will also be forced to spend more and we’ll be the first country in history to impose economic sanctions on ourselves.
But at least we’ll be ‘taking back control’.