There was a pivotal moment when I first realized that, despite the confidence of the talkative classes that the UK would stay in the EU, the exact opposite would happen.
It happened during a televised debate in 2016, when a member of the public explained his concerns about unchecked immigration to a panel of politicians.
He pointed out that as a permanent resident of this country, he was an engaged and active member of his community, his children went to local school, he had a mortgage, a car and all the cost of living bills. who go with family life.
To pay for all that, he had to earn a decent wage (he was a bricklayer, if I remember correctly) but was suddenly being undermined at every step by foreign workers who, living side by side in temporary accommodation and with little overhead, could work for less money which they then sent back to their families, regardless of their country of origin.
It had nothing to do with nationality or skin color and everything to do with the fact that cheap foreign labor temporarily imported was a valid concern for those (of all nationalities and skin colors) who full-time resident in the UK.
But rather than sympathize, the majority of the panel preferred to signal their credentials by making it clear that they viewed their concerns as racist.
It was a deliberate misunderstanding of his point of view, and his expression of despair screamed, “Nobody in power is listening to me.”
So, on June 23 of the same year, he and 17 million others gave them a wake-up call in the referendum.
I thought about this man this week while reading the details of the sackings by P&O Ferries.
A few months earlier, the company’s chief executive said how “essential” his staff was, but last week 800 of them were summarily fired without notice via a Zoom call.
And guess what? They were instantly replaced by cheaper foreign personnel, many of whom would live in cheap hostels and, in some cases, tents.
According to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, many of them could be paid less than the minimum wage because the ships are registered in other countries and are therefore exempt from British legislation.
“We are concerned that the poverty wage will be accompanied by seafarers being chained to 12-hour-a-day, seven-day contracts which run continuously for six months, without a pension,” says Mick Lynch, general secretary of RMT.
A laid-off worker, who joined P&O straight from school 30 years ago, said: “Yes, we lost our jobs. But we also lost our lives to some extent.
“We have spent half our lives on these ferries. We had our own cabins, we outfitted them with our own stuff. Everything was taken from us.
“The guys had 15 minutes to pack up and get off. I have seen adult men in tears worrying about how they are going to pay their mortgages and feed their children.
Enough. A number of politicians are calling the actions of Dubai-owned P&O Ferries ‘disgusting’ but, like those on that TV panel six years ago, they will never be replaced by cheap imported labor at any given time, so many (not all) have little understanding of its impact on the lives of ordinary hard-working people just trying to make ends meet.
No one blames migrant workers – they try to provide for their families back home.
But with a cost-of-living crisis looming, many long-serving P&O employees will struggle to find jobs to fund their overheads and will inevitably have to claim benefits.
In the future, how does this make economic sense for UK plc?
In 2016, the man’s experience on that televised debate was an early warning of an unsustainable situation that the millions of people who voted for Brexit hoped would be resolved.
But it fell on deaf ears at the time and, six years after the referendum, P&O’s experience tells us that the problem has gotten worse and can only get worse.
Talking is cheap, so what is the government really going to do about it?
What is the naked truth for Lottie?
KATE MOSS’s younger sister, Lottie, has been dropped by the Storm modeling agency.
No reason was given, but the 24-year-old may have seen the writing on the wall when she said she was cutting back on “modeling stuff” because “I do more naked stuff. I really like that.”
I hope for her that getting naked on the OnlyFans subscription site will make her really happy.
But his recent stint in rehab might suggest otherwise.
Confinement is a path to ruin
It was exactly two years ago today that we entered the first confinement.
It’s fair to say that most of us have appreciated the chance to spend more quality time with our families, clear out those closets, and enjoy the timely burst of unusually warm weather.
But then came the second lockdown. Then the third.
And suddenly it wasn’t such a novelty anymore.
Small businesses and the self-employed have struggled to stay afloat; children were deprived of their education and their social interactions with their friends; the elderly have become more isolated; the sick, disabled or injured have seen life-changing treatments and services put on hold; and billions of taxpayers’ money poured into furlough schemes – of which £4.3billion was defrauded and, inexplicably, written off.
The NHS now faces a vast backlog of people needing treatment for physical ailments, and new data indicates England has suffered ‘the biggest blow to our mental health in generations’.
A crisis that will surely also apply to Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Yes, we are seeing an increase in the highly transmissible ‘stealth Omicron’ but, with a few exceptions, the symptoms are like a bad cold.
We are learning to live with it and those who remain vulnerable must take the necessary precautions to stay protected.
But the idea suggested by some that another lockdown is needed must be dismissed outright.
Locking up millions to protect a few is the way to ruin.
It’s time to spot the porkies
STOP all the clocks, mute the phone, stop the dog from barking with a juicy bone. . . the Duchess of Sussex is finally set to launch her Spotify podcast this summer.
The talking points have yet to be made public, but she and Prince Harry said they wanted to be “responsible stewards of an audio landscape well endowed with quality factual information”.
Better not air a rerun of that Oprah interview, then.
JACOB REES-MOGG, the Minister for Government Efficiency (an oxymoron, surely?), claims that in some offices in Whitehall, “less than 30%” of the desks are in use.
One of them may be the DVLA, given that booking a driving test is now more difficult than getting Adele tickets.
He demanded that his Cabinet colleagues “send a clear message” that civil servants should be back in their desks.
Given that we are about to experience a series of excellent weather conditions, all I can say is . . . good luck with that.
No end to the sick
Serial killer Levi Bellfield is serving a life sentence for murdering young women who had their whole lives ahead of them before bludgeoning them to death with a hammer.
Yet last week, after he was caught with his hand up his skirt during a prison visit, it emerged he had struck up a ‘close relationship’ with a woman in her 40s.
We know that there are many sick spirits incarcerated in our prisons, but there also seem to be a few that reside outside the four walls.
Smells of madness
The spanking of children is already illegal in Scotland.
Now Wales has introduced similar legislation and England is following suit.
A recent poll showed that 75% of people believe spanking is wrong, and I don’t disagree with that.
But if anyone thinks this will stop everyone who ritually abuses their children behind closed doors, they are mistaken.