I am no expert. Not in politics, not in parenting, not in home education, not in Midwifery. However, through open and honest discussions with a range of people in a range of fields, and through reading around things and asking relevant questions, I have an idea of what I think the Brexit situation risks are.
So, what do I think?
Lots of media outlets worldwide have already spoken to me over the last few months. They’ve mostly asked the same questions. One thing they’ve all covered, at least to some extent, is am I panicking? Over reacting? Crazy?
The UK is ever closer to B day – 29th March 2019. Each week, sometimes each day, brings more news from parliament and/or Number 10. Each time more information trickles in the way the future looks fluctuates, but only slightly. Now, just ten weeks away, and it’s look more likely than ever that the UK faces dropping off a cliff edge into, mostly, unknown waters.
Unkown doesn’t mean unpredictable though. We can cross the road with our eyes closed and ears blocked, but we can predict whether we might get hit by a car, even though we don’t know if there may be one there. In a similar way it can be predicted what the likely result of a no deal Brexit will be. The experts – experienced knowledgeable people – in a variety of fields have discussed it at length already.
As a summary, here’s how I’ve understood the “worst case” situation, and what I’m doing to cushion my family where appropriate:
Delays with imports
This includes food, medicines, packaging, parts, materials, raw ingredients, chemicals and anything else the UK imports from ANYWHERE in the WORLD.
The estimates for the length of delays varies quite widely.
Ultimately, fresh produce – fruit, veg, meat – will be most affected as they have a very short shelf life in the first place.
Shelf stable items may suffer in the short term, whilst things settle down, but hopefully after a couple of months there will be a flow of some sorts getting to the shops.
Panic buying may occur when shelves begin to empty, this will likely not be product or origin specific but, much more general mass purchasing of whatever people can get.
Shortages may occur on unexpected items as a result of panic buying and substituting of difficult to obtain products.
We have bought in extra of the shelf stable items we would normally use and also considered some alternatives to short shelf life things we would normally have – eg. milk, fruit, vegetables, meat etc. We’ve considered less obvious things too like pet food, toilet roll and sanitary protection. We have also started growing vegetables in the garden – trying anyway – as a way to supplement whatever is available.
Stockpiling, as we have, is different to panic buying. We have bought little and often – an extra pack of rice/pasta each time we shop – and we always follow the “never leave a shelf empty” rule to ensure there is something for the next person. Gathering a supply in this way, now, also means that supermarkets and chemists (in the case of medicines) can restock easily and adjust the quanitity they purchase now, while they still can.
Curently, the UK is part of an EU wide system that allows an “exchange” of electric between those with excess and those with deficit. This allows us to maintain sufficient power for our needs 100% of the time. Currently, the UK does indeed draw on this system fairly regularly. Leaving the EU may mean shortages of electricity during peak demand periods.
I am not expecting major disruption to power, though many Brexit Preppers are. What I envisage is rolling blackouts at planned times, when electricity will be rationed to essential services.
To prepare for this we have done very little. We are already campers so have equipment for cooking etc without electric. We have made sure we have spare batteries for the torches, and know where to find said cooking equipment should we need or want it. We had solar panels put on our house anyway, though these are currently useless in a power cut as we are still awaiting the import of the equipment to take them off grid in a power outtage. In the meantime, the solar panels contribute to the UK’s self sufficiency for power production, more than none at all at least!
This is a slightly more tricky one to predict. Some of the chemicals used to treat our drinking water are imported, some of these have a very short shelf life. Delays in imports may affect the availability of water treatment chemicals. Water is also pumped using electricity, interruptions in electricity supply may affect the pumping of water.
Whatever happens with the water, it is likely that a clean water supply would be prioritised in some way.
We have a Drink Safe water filtration bottle, and spare filter, to use with our large rain water harvesting tank.
Tariffs for imports
Leaving the EU means leaving the Customs Union (Tarriff free trade) and all the Trade agreements we currently enjoy with the rest of the world.
The result will be tariffs applied to everything we import (and export) making everything more expensive. This is likely to be passed on to the consumer so, things will likely cost more for us to use and buy.
We have fixed our electricity and our mortgage. Stockpiling also protects our wallet from price increases, as well as shortages of products.
Fuel may be in short supply, and more expensive. Some understand the risk to be greater with Diesel than Petrol.
Flights in and out of the UK may be affected as once we leave the EU our airports, planes, pilots and maintenence etc will be technically unregulated. The UK have stated they will not prevent flights landing but, that doesn’t mean other countries will reciprocate
This doesn’t just affect EU flights or flights going through EU airspace. As I understand it, the airspace is not the issue, our lack of regulatory body may be of concern for all airlines, WORLDWIDE.
We plan to keep the car filled up when we can. We have not booked a holiday for this year yet, and will not until things become more clear. We are making sure we all have usable bicycles for local trips.
So, what if it’s not as bad as predicted? What if we don’t crash out of the EU?
Then I will be one very happy woman! We’ve bought and done very little that we wouldn’t have anyway. Most of the surplus food will go to food banks, the rest we’ll use as normal.
We are less anxious about the whole uncertain situation knowing we have invested in a small insurance policy for our family by way of our stockpile. It’s there if we need it, if we don’t then great, we’ll simply pass it on to someone else who does.
And to those who think what we’re doing is selfish or irresponsible:
It’s quite the opposite. We are making additional purchases slowly and in advance, during a period of time where it’s still possible for supermarkets to restock and adjust their ordering accordingly. This will mean more is available for those that can’t prepare in advance.
We are also preparing boxes for friends and family who cannot for themselves – it’s not a lot, but hopefully enough to be of use to them.