Britain’s wartime food shortages? Not worth speaking about.
Ditto, the Irish potato famine. Ditto, the famines that throughout history afflicted Russia on average once every seven years. Ditto, the famines either caused or deliberately organised by the Soviets. Ditto, Mao’s Great Leap towards mass starvation.
All these will pale into insignificance compared to the blight that’s bound to devastate Britain should we leave the EU without a trade deal.
As a believer in forcing the Queen to abdicate, disbanding Parliament and introducing direct rule by Jean-Claude Junker, I’d like to point out that we’ll suffer dire consequences even if we leave the EU with a deal.
Any student of history will be aware of the extent to which the country’s well-being has depended on the goodwill of Luxembourg, Estonia and Slovakia. Without them telling us how to run our affairs, Britain has always been reduced to impotence and penury.
But at least we more or less managed to keep mass hunger, malnutrition and alimentary dystrophy at bay. That will instantly come to an end if we exit the EU without first securing a promise to feed us.
That’s why Mrs May and her able ministers are doing us all a favour by issuing their distress warnings. Instead of accusing them of dishonest scaremongering – something those Brexiteer vipers indulge in – we should do as we’re told and be thankful.
Specifically, we must do privately what our supermarkets are already doing institutionally: stockpile staples. Tinned food, packets of pasta and rice, soap, condoms, sugar, salt, Vaseline, candles – things we could do with and especially things we couldn’t do without.
However, such prudent foresight will only delay the disaster, not prevent it. A moment will come when we’ve put the last drop of Vaseline on our last candle and eaten the last morsel of the food we stockpiled.
The most recent solution to that problem was provided by the British novelist Simon Raven (d. 2001). He was once married for a short while, only long enough to produce a son before absconding.
At some point his abandoned wife sent him a telegram: “Wife and baby starving send money soonest”. Raven’s reply should provide succour to all those who heed Mrs May’s warning about impending post-Brexit starvation: “Sorry no money suggest eat baby”.
An immeasurably greater earlier novelist promoted a similar hunger-relief programme. In his 1729 essay A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift advocated the use of children for nourishment as a way of alleviating a famine in Ireland:
“A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.”
If you doubt that we’ll be reduced to infanticidal cannibalism if we fall out with the EU, consider the facts (or better still, don’t consider them and listen to what your auntie Theresa is telling you).
We import 30 per cent of our food from the EU. (And, speaking specifically about Penelope and me, 100 per cent of our wine. I also import 100 per cent of my whisky from Scotland, which, as we know, will split away from the UK after Brexit and probably declare war on England.)
And – are you ready for the truly hair-raising data? – the average British family spends a staggering 10 (ten) per cent of its income on food!!! Juxtaposing this number with the previous one, three per cent of our income is spent on food imported from the EU!!!!!! (I’m running out of exclamation marks.)
In average absolute numbers, rather than those deceptive percentages, the average UK family spends £60 a week on food, of which a mind-blowing £20 is spent on food imported from our benefactor, the EU.
Now suppose that our unauthorised exit upsets Jean-Claude Junker so much that the EU stops all food exports to the UK, making us look for replacements elsewhere.
Suppose also that those greedy Africans and South Americans will fleece us into paying a devastating 10 per cent more for our food imports.
Again, percentages don’t give you an accurate idea of the full scale of the looming disaster. Let me spell it out for you in capital letters, so that the message will remain emblazoned in your mind:
THE AVERAGE BRITISH FAMILY WILL HAVE TO SPEND AN EXTRA £2 A WEEK ON FOOD. THAT’S TWO QUID!!!!!!!! (May I borrow some exclamation marks from you?)
There, I hope you’re now aware of the depth of the nutritional abyss into which Britain will stumble if Mrs May’s darkest… sorry, I mean realistic predictions come true.
Prepare to see a chain of baby abattoirs in our cities. Be ready to hear waiters describe today’s special as: “Shropshire Lad: a thigh of an ethically slaughtered milk-fed one-year-old Anglo baby raised in Shropshire, marinated in garlic and lemon, herb-crusted, slow-roasted in Kent white wine and served with ratatouille – sorry, I mean vegetable stew.”
And especially brace yourself for suffering the worst deprivation of all: drinking colonial wines. Why, the other day I sent a sample of a cheeky Californian Mountain Chablis to the lab and got back the report saying “your dog is diabetic”.
But let’s not go into that: you’ve heard enough horror stories for one day. And auntie Theresa has many more where those came from.