Sketch: Brexit does not necessarily mean we will all starve to death

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 25 July 2018 in Comment

Dominic Raab's appearance in front of the House of Commons Brexit select committee does little to allay fears over leaving the EU

Image: Can of worms

How do you follow a man like David Davis? Well, it seems Dominic Raab, the new Brexit Secretary, is giving it a pretty good shot.

Raab’s appearance in front of the Brexit select committee was his first big chance to make an impression, and he seized it, using his testimony to inject some much needed optimism into the discussion surrounding the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

And it turns out he was bringing good news – we are almost certainly not going to all starve to death.

As Raab explained, the UK is absolutely not stock piling food in an attempt to maintain the survival of its population, should all access to European markets be shut off in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit.

“We will look at this issue in the round and make sure that there’s adequate food supplies”, he explained. “It would be wrong to describe it as the government doing the stockpiling… of course the idea that we only get food imports into this country from one continent is not appropriate.”

Pressed for more details from MPs – possibly about where they themselves could find food – Raab explained: “I’m not going to give more detail until I can set it out in a responsible and full fashion.”

Well indeed, Dominic. In fact it might have been an idea to withhold any detail if you can’t present it in a fashion that isn’t terrifying.

The UK Government is pursuing a policy objective that may, but hopefully won’t, lead to widespread starvation. It was incredible. There are now horror writers taking inspiration from UK Government policy. In fact they’re probably not just taking inspiration – they’re probably just writing it down verbatim.

But the oddest bit of the whole thing is that Raab’s statement actually forms part of a consistent cabinet theme. Continuing UK minister’s new obsession with sounding like a bunch of dystopian foodies, Theresa May chose this week to weigh in with the boast that: “I enjoy cooking, which has a benefit, you get to eat it as well as make it.”

Her favourite thing about making a meal is that you can eat it. It was a statement that made you realise how much you enjoy sleeping, on the basis that is affords a brief escape from consciousness.

After all, no one actually thought Theresa May was a robot – it was just a joke – yet here she was, boasting of possessing a human metabolism. It genuinely wouldn’t be that big a surprise to see her give a speech next week in which she slyly informs the audience, with the air of someone sharing some juicy inside gossip, about how she enjoys the workings of her cardiovascular system.

But here we are. A PM who considers the news that she uses food to fuel her body to be an insight into her life as a functioning mammal, and a Conservative Party that considers an ambition usually held by a struggling subsistence farmer in a barren wasteland to be attractive policy.

Of course the other option would be to use some of that extra £350m a week of NHS money to ensure the population can access basic medicine, but, curiously, that figure was left out of Raab’s statement to MPs.

Yet, on reflection, it’s hard to escape the feeling this whole thing might be the Remoaners fault. And so Caroline Lucas – who is very much the Joey Remoan of the Brexit process – responded to suggest the statement was somehow alarming.

“In just over two years since the 2016 referendum, we’ve gone from being told that  'there is no downside to Brexit, only a significant upside', to the government now warning that we might not have enough food to go around”, she said.

Brexit minister Martin Callanan was forced to strike back, fiercely denying suggestions the UK is stock piling food. “It seems to me to be a fairly ridiculous scare story. There are many countries outside of the European Union that manage to feed their citizens perfectly satisfactorily without the benefit of EU processes.”

Fairly ridiculous. Not totally ridiculous, but reasonably ridiculous. And he is probably right, it probably is totally unfair to question the competence of the UK Government. Though it’s worth adding that the comments came on the same day that ministers misspelled ‘European Union’ in its EU Withdrawal Bill White Paper.

But Europen Union or not, people are going to start getting worried at this rate. After David Davis’s announcement on a ‘Mad Max’ style Brexit we knew there would be adequate levels of roving, lawless motorcycle gangs, and now, thanks to Raab, we know there will be adequate food levels. Just enough food for the gangs to fight over.

So things are looking up – all we need is an announcement that there will be adequate levels of kerosene and we can start planning a giant fire.

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