Mick Hucknall trolls Brexiteers over vegetable rationing

Mick Hucknall took to Twitter to urge “European friends” to post pictures of their own “supermarket food shortages”.
Mick Hucknall took to Twitter to urge “European friends” to post pictures of their own “supermarket food shortages”.

Pop star Mick Hucknall has taken it upon himself to show that Brexit has played a part in causing the empty supermarket shelves seen across the UK.

Tesco, Aldi, Asda and Morrisons are limiting sales of some fruit and vegetables to handle a shortage of supplies from Europe and Africa.

Hucknall is a keen Remainer, having faced a backlash from Jeremy Corbyn supporters in 2016 after calling the then-Labour leader a “spineless coward” for refusing to campaign strongly enough for Britain to stay in the European Union.

On Wednesday, the Simply Red singer took to Twitter to urge “European friends” to post pictures of their own “supermarket food shortages”, and included the “Brexit benefits” hashtag.

His call to arms was followed by a thread purporting to show shops in Europe with shelves full of produce.

Industry commentators have pointed to bad weather in Europe and Africa for disrupted supplies.

Growers and suppliers in Morocco have had to contend with cold temperatures, heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries over the past three to four weeks – all of which have affected the volume of fruit reaching Britain.

Supplies from Britain’s other major winter source, Spain, have also been badly affected by weather.

The UK also gets some produce at this time of year from domestic growers and the Netherlands, but producers in both countries have reported cutting back on their use of greenhouses because of high energy prices.

But some have argued Brexit is factor as well, and point to the additional bureaucratic costs associated with exporting produce to the UK – meaning Britain sent to the back of the queue.

To counter the argument, others have cited EU member Ireland facing shortages to contend the crisis is not linked to Brexit.

In any case, some Twitter users have done as Hucknall has and posted a more positive perspective from the continent.

Former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King said supermarkets have been “hurt horribly by Brexit”.

Speaking to LBC on Wednesday, King said that UK greenhouses, previously known to grow tomatoes, have suffered in recent years.

“North Kent, in Thanet, [had] the largest greenhouses in Europe, which used to be full of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes,” he said.

“But those greenhouses have suffered...I hate to say it...but it’s a sector that’s been hurt horribly by Brexit.”

And Liz Webster from Save British Farming lobby group said: “The reason that we have shortages in Britain and they don’t have shortages anywhere else in Europe is Brexit.

“All of this was predicted and predictable, we have been telling them (the government) that they need to act on it and there’s certain things they could have done, like keeping the fertiliser plants open in Britain and giving funding to farmers in Britain to compensate for the loss of trade with Europe.”

Morocco has become a more important source of food for the UK since Brexit.

In 2021, the British Embassy in Morocco said the country provided “25% of tomatoes eaten in the UK”, and that “since January 2021, food exports from (Morocco) to the (UK) have increased by almost 40%”.