The government has further considered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the validity period of theory test certificates.
After careful consideration and in response to a recent petition the government has decided not to extend theory test certificates for road safety reasons.
This is the government’s decision – not DVSA – so I’d advise a lot of people to think of that before venting on social media.
Please note that screen wash – even at its most concentrated – has a very low alcohol content and cannot be used as a hand sanitizer.
I’ve mentioned this in the smearing windscreens article, but we’re approaching that time of year where it gets wet and cold, and a lot of crap gets thrown on to your glass and builds up into a nasty film that doesn’t easily wash off.
It amazes me that some people – even driving instructors – only put water in their wash bottles (if they have anything in at all). And hearing them try to justify it just cracks me up.
Water on its own does not have sufficient wetting properties to attack oil, wax, and grease, and even proper washer fluid can have problems – it’s why you get that mosaic pattern left behind when you wipe in the wet. You need a good detergent to clean off oily deposits, and a small amount of alcohol to assist with wetting. Alcohol also functions as an antifreeze, so whereas using just water means you’re going to get a popsicle with the first frosts, a proper washer fluid will protect you to well below freezing as long as you have it at the right concentration.
You can buy two types in the stores – concentrated, or ready-to-use. In most cases, the ‘concentrated’ stuff will act as an antifreeze when used neat down to about -9°C for the most expensive brands, or -6°C for the routine stuff (some brands claim -20°C). The freezing temperature is dependent on the amount of alcohol in it, and it’s obviously cheaper to make with less alcohol. For most of the year, you might use this concentrated stuff diluted between about 1:5 to 1:10 with water, but the colder it gets the more concentrated liquid you need to avoid freeze ups.
The ready-to-use stuff is used neat, but you need to be aware of what temperature it will go down to before it freezes. Some brands are good to -4°C, and with the weather in early 2021 in the UK that would almost certainly freeze up on you. If you’re somewhere where it gets really cold, it would be no good at all. They also sell ‘summer screen wash’, which contains little or no alcohol.
The price of typical concentrated screen wash varies from about £5 per 5L in summer, to about £8 in winter (when you need it the most). The ready-to-use stuff is similarly priced, even though it is more dilute. In a bad winter, with lots of rain and slush, I can easily get through 5L of washer fluid each week. I use less in summer, but over a year it can mount up. Not to a huge amount, but it’s still an overhead.
If you’re going to buy it, my advice is to stock up in summer when the prices are lower, and only get the concentrate so you’re not paying someone to dilute it for you. You often get BOGOF offers in summer.
However, it can be cheaper to make your own (it definitely was when I first published this). I got the idea when I had a freeze up one time (I was late switching to my winter mix), and solved the immediate problem by nipping into a hardware store and buying a bottle of methylated spirits. Adding that to my wash bottle depressed the freezing point and I was running again within 30 minutes. There was also the fact that my garage was overflowing with the stuff I’d stocked up on.
When I started making my own concentrate I was using bio-ethanol, which is a clean-burning fuel for home heaters. However, most of this comes from the EU (even the UK-branded stuff), and as a result of the insanity of Brexit the price has gone up to cover import duties. You can still get it for as little as £3.40 per litre, but the number of suppliers has dropped and the price of UK supplies has gone up. Alternatively, denatured ethanol supplied as a cleaning agent can also be used, and you can get it for as little as £3.80 a litre.
Washer fluid needs to do two things:
- not freeze when it gets cold
It’s basically just a mixture of alcohol and water with a bit of detergent.
The alcohol – usually as ethanol – functions as an antifreeze and a wetting agent. The whole subject of freezing point depression in alcohol/water mixtures is a huge topic in physical chemistry, but the bottom line is that pure water freezes at 0°C, whereas adding alcohol lowers (depresses) the freezing point. A 10% ethanol/water mixture freezes at -4°C, a 20% mixture freezes at -9°C, and a 30% mixture freezes at -15°C. A typical commercial concentrate might claim that it freezes at -6°C when used neat, and this means it must contain 15% alcohol.
Alcohol is the most expensive ingredient in screen wash, and 5L of a 15% solution will have 750mls of ethanol in it. The cost of alcohol varies depending on current circumstances, but it’s cheaper the more you buy.
Whatever detergent you use has to be relatively non-foaming – you don’t want bubbles blowing down the street when you use it – and it has to be the kind that is actually going to attack the crud that gets on your windscreen. This is another big chemistry subject, but to cut a long story short, Traffic Film Remover (TFR) is ideal. TFR gets anything off your car – tar, oil, mud, insects, bird crap, dead squirrels, that sort of thing. I get mine from JennyChem, who also supply a range of car products the car washes use. You only need to use it at a concentration of between 1% and 2%, so one 5L container goes a long way, and will make up to 70 batches of screen wash.
Finally, there’s the water. It depends on how anally retentive you are on the subject (for me – very). Tap water is what most people would use, but – and depending on where you live – this can leave mineral deposits on the glass as streaks if you’re in a medium or hard water area. You can buy deionised water, which has the minerals removed, but it costs money – unless you have access to a supply of it, which you might. Alternatively, rain water (boiled and filtered), or – and what I use – the condensate from a dehumidifier, provides soft water which leaves no streaks.
Making your concentrate is easy. Get an empty 5L container (the kind screen wash usually comes in), add 750mls ethanol, 75-100mls TFR, and top up to 5L with water. Mix well by shaking the container. Used neat, this will protect down to about -6°C, but in summer you can dilute it as low as 1 part to 5 parts of water (1:5).
Personally, I make my screen wash fluid ready-to-use as I need it (I make three or four batches at a time and just keep them on hand, making more as required). In summer, I just make it with less alcohol – 100mls or so – and use more water.
For comparison, if I bought a 5L bottle of screen wash concentrate right now (February 2021) which was good down to -6°C when used neat, it would cost somewhere between £8 and £11. A 5L batch of my own stuff good down to the same temperature would cost £3.12.
A 5L bottle of ready-to-use summer mix would cost £6 bought online. My own summer mix costs £1.22 (though it could be as little as £0.27 without any alcohol in it).
What if the temperature goes below -6°C?
You just need a higher alcohol content. Protection to -6°C requires about 15% alcohol, but 20% will give -9°C, and 25% will give about -12°C. However, bear in mind the flash point of alcohol solutions. My advice is not to exceed 25% alcohol by volume.
How can I prepare for cold temperatures?
Use common sense. In summer, a high alcohol content of the screen wash in your car is just a waste of money. Dilute the concentrate about 1:5 with water (it would freeze at just below -0°C). When it gets colder, and sub-zero temperatures are likely, a 1:1 dilution will cover you to about -2°C, a 2:1 dilution to about -4°C, and a 3:1 dilution to about -5°C. As we have said, the concentrate used neat would be good as low as -6°C.
Can I make it with more alcohol in it?
Yes, but be careful. Ethanol is flammable, even in water mixtures. On its own it has a flash point of 14°C (that means that at that temperature and above, a combustible vapour exists that can easily be ignited). A 10% solution in water has a flash point of 49°C, which is much safer. A 20% solution has a flash point of 36°C, which is still safe unless you store it in a very hot place. A 30% solution has a flash point of 29°C, and this is quite likely to be encountered in hot weather. My advice is not to exceed about 25% of ethanol.
A concentrate made using 1L (20%) of ethanol instead of 750mls will be good down to -9°C. A 25% mixture will cover you down to -12°C. Any more than that, and be careful. Don’t store a strong winter mix in your car during the summer. And definitely don’t carry any neat ethanol during the summer months.
Can I use isopropanol instead?
Also known a Propan-2-ol, 2-Propanol, and Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA).
Short answer, yes – but only if the sub-zero temperatures are a few degrees below zero. IPA has a lower flashpoint than ethanol, and anything above 20% is risky. IPA also has a distinctive smell.
Can I use Methanol?
I’m just going to say no. It’s poisonous, and could be dangerous, so for that reason you should not use it.
Can I use methylated spirits?
Usually, this contains methanol as the denaturant – though sometimes other chemicals are used. It also has a strong smell. Apart from the time I used it in an emergency, I would advise against it. However, if you can find ‘denatured ethanol’ or ‘denatured ethyl alcohol’, and can be sure it doesn’t have methanol in it, that would be fine. It’s usually (not always) the blue stuff that contains methanol.
It seems complicated making your own
That’s why there is a market for ready-to-use screen wash. It’s up to you.
I just use water as a screenwash
Water on its own is no good. If the temperature falls, it will freeze. Even if it doesn’t freeze in your main washer bottle, it will in the pipes and at the nozzles, and freezing water is quite capable of splitting pipes or closed containers. Water alone doesn’t clean many things off the glass – it won’t touch oil, grease, or squashed insects, and it will struggle with tree sap.
If you do get a freeze up, trying to use the pump might cause it to burn out. Although I haven’t come across the problem recently, even if it doesn’t split your feed pipes it can cause them to become detached inside the car (it was a regular occurrence (well, it happened twice) on a Citroen Xantia I used to have many years ago).
Remember that if you are driving without the ability to keep your windscreen clear, you are committing an offence. The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 says:
Every wiper and washer fitted in accordance with this regulation shall at all times while a vehicle is being used on a road be maintained in efficient working order and be properly adjusted.
Arguably, you are not complying with this if you just use water. If it freezes (or the bottle is empty) and you drive, you’re definitely not complying with it. It is shocking that some ADIs are apparently doing this.
Can you dilute ready to use screenwash?
Of course you can. It’s not a magic potion – just a mixture of water, alcohol, and detergent. I wouldn’t dilute the ready-to-use stuff more than about 50:50 with water, though, because the detergent probably wouldn’t do its job properly. And if it has a stated freezing point, just remember that diluting it means it will freeze at a higher temperature, and that could catch you out in winter.
An email alert from DVSA came through today. In it, they outline measures for handling the increased demand for tests.
I wrote recently that only specific key workers can still get tests. This email doesn’t make it clear in regards the time frames based on the key worker situation, but I am assuming that it means once we can all start working again. To that end, they are running a recruitment campaign for driving examiners.
So if the last 12 months has put you off being self-employed, that might be something to consider.
One key point in the email is that DVSA says:
How to reduce waiting times
We also need support from you, your pupils and our examiners to help us reduce driving test waiting times…
It is vital that your pupils are test-ready when rearranging their tests, as tests could be at short notice.
I know it will fall on a lot of deaf ears, but since most pupils – even those who were test ready – haven’t driven since March 2020, there’s just an incey-wincey chance that booking a test for them as soon as you can get one is going to backfire, because they won’t still be test ready.
I guess the upside to that (for some people) will be that if their little darlings fail, they can then blame DVSA about the length of time for the next test, the reason they failed, and so on.
Plus ça change…
At the moment, my newsfeed is filled with stories about ‘the best rice cooker’ – probably as a result of my browsing history, I admit.
They’re all-singing, all-dancing electric things that do far more than you actually need. Now, I know that a lot of Asian people swear by electric rice cookers, but they tend to be fairly simple machines. In the West, we try to incorporate functions that are useless – like being able to play Netflix movies while you’re controlling the central heating. Stuff like that.
I can tell you now as an absolute fact, the only rice cooker you will ever need – assuming you have a microwave oven – is the Sistema Rice Cooker. All you do is put one measure of rice in the pot, add one and three quarters (or two) measures of water, and a little salt, and microwave on high for 9-10 minutes. Give it a stir, let it stand for another 5 minutes, and you have perfect rice. Period.
And it’s about a tenth of the price of the fancy ones. Sistema make some good food storage containers, too.
People keep asking this. I’ve had two emails this week: how much do you earn as an instructor? When it is asked online, almost every time some dipstick somewhere tries to answer it by doing it all wrong, or by making it too complicated.
If you were in a salaried position where the stated wage was £30,000 per year, that would be before tax and National Insurance. Any comparison for being self-employed also has to be before tax and NI. That’s because tax and NI are different for everyone (single, married, disabled, and God knows what other things). You need to keep these out of it in order to compare with self-employed income.
In a salaried position, you get the stated wage no matter what you do. If it says you get £30,000 a year, then you get £30,000 a year – before tax and NI. If you change to another salaried job, if the stated wage of the new job is £32,000, then you will be earning £2,000 more – before tax and NI.
To compare a self-employed job, you need to get an equivalent figure before tax and NI.
Being self-employed is different to being salaried, because you are not guaranteed an income. It depends on how much work you do, and in the case of a driving instructor, that work could be anything from 0 hours up to 50+ hours in any given week. It would be utterly stupid to budget based on doing 50 hours every week, and what you need is the average for an entire year. Since you are trying to predict a career change, you need to assume a sensible average figure and not just a big number you like the sound of – and which you would not be able to achieve reliably, if at all.
If being an ADI is going to be your main source of income, you need to be thinking of around 30 hours as a safe and sensible average figure once you are established. In reality, work will fluctuate, and if you end up averaging 35 or 40 hours, that’s great. But don’t get carried away, because something might happen which brings the average down to 25 hours or even less, and it is much harder to sustain a higher average than it is a lower one. If you underestimate, anything more is a bonus. But if you overestimate, not achieving it could be disastrous if you’ve bet your house (or mortgage repayments) on it.
Then there is your hourly lesson rate. Not everyone can charge £40 an hour. Some ADIs live in areas where £25 might be at the top end of what people will pay. Find out what your area’s average is and use that. In Nottingham, for example, £30 an hour is a sensible and realistic hourly rate right now (elsewhere on the blog I have referred to figures of £25 and £27 from when those were typical rates).
Finally, how many weeks will you work? Let’s assume – sensible assumptions are important when you’re self-employed – that you work 48 weeks of the year.
The maths is now quite simple. 30 hours a week times by £30 an hour times by 48 weeks means you will be taking £43,200 from your pupils each year. That’s your turnover (total income).
But you also have business costs, or expenses. You have to pay for your car, fuel, insurance, and so on, and you use your turnover to pay for these. No matter what you see the feral monkeys on social media claiming, they do not run a car ‘for nothing’. One way or another there is a weekly business cost associated with even the most dilapidated and ancient jalopy you could find. The vast, vast majority of instructors will have weekly vehicle costs of at least £100 (for the whole 52 weeks of the year). Fuel is also around £100 for a 30 hour week (for the 48 weeks you work).
Combining these, your car costs will amount to £100 times by 52 weeks, totalling £5,200. Fuel usage is £100 times by 48 weeks, which totals £4,800. Together, that’s £10,000 of expenses.
Therefore, your actual income – your wage before tax and NI – based on an average of 30 hours per week at £30 per hour is £43,200 minus £10,000, which equals £33,200.
Before you drool all over your keyboard, it’s worth considering a few realistic and quite possible variations in this calculation. Firstly, what if you only average 25 hours a week instead of 30? In that case, your annual wage would drop to around £26,500.
Secondly, what if you do 30 hours, but can only charge £27? In this case, your wage would be around £29,000.
Thirdly, what if you average 25 hours and can only charge £27? Now, your wage would be around £23,000.
And finally, what if you don’t get anywhere near an average of 25 hours in your first year? Will it be enough to pay your bills?
It’s easy to put all this into a simple spreadsheet to compare the different scenarios and variables. But one look at what’s happened in the last year should be enough to hammer it home that there are never any guarantees, and any future-looking calculation is only an estimate. So if you are planning a new career, be almost pessimistic in your assumptions. If you work everything out based on 40 hour weeks and £35 an hour lessons, but end up with 20 hour weeks and £25 an hour lessons, you’re going to end up very disappointed indeed.
As soon as you try and discuss this with people, the first things they’ll say will be along the lines of ‘my car doesn’t cost me anything’ or ‘well I only spend £60 a week on fuel’. Or some other contrarian nonsense. I’ve explained the one about cars ‘not costing anything’ in the main Should I Become An Instructor article, and it is a nonsense claim as far as planning a career change is concerned. The amount of fuel you use is specific to you and the area you teach in. Someone in a big city, with all their pupils closely packed into a small area, might well have lower mileage (and lower fuel costs). Someone in the middle of the countryside will quite possibly have significantly higher fuel costs. In Nottingham, £100 a week is roughly what fuel costs are for me if I work for around 30 hours. And that’s a common ballpark figure for many instructors.
Play around with the calculations by all means, but don’t always look for the most attractive numbers. If you plug in a low fuel bill, low car costs, and top-end lesson prices, the result might seem wonderful, but at the end of the day you’re going to have to go out there and do it – and that’s where the hard work starts.
Just remember not to try and factor in tax, National Insurance, pensions, savings, bills, or anything else when trying to do a like-for-like comparison with salaried jobs. All that comes later when you have to deal with self-assessments and HMRC.
An email alert from DVSA advises that they are introducing a limited theory and practical test service for emergency workers. The key details:
This will be available to:
- NHS health and social care workers
- the emergency services
- local councils
Who need to both:
- drive as part of their job
- respond to ‘threats to life’ as part of their job
Because of the current COVID restrictions, we are not able to offer a mobile emergency worker test service in Scotland.
Teaching someone with a confirmed test booking
You can teach mobile emergency workers who have a confirmed test booking even if current local or national restrictions do not allow driving and riding tests.
You must not teach anyone who only has a routine driving test booked – even if they are an NHS health and social care worker, emergency service worker or local council worker.
They seem to have already tried to address the loopholes that certain instructors will immediately have looked for based on the last year. I’m now waiting to see what other complaints they come up with.
Read the full email, as there are a few other things you will need to be aware of – in particular, being able to prove that the pupil has an emergency test booked if you are stopped.
Basic geography lesson for non-UK readers.
It will undoubtedly come as a surprise to learn that ‘England’ consists of more than just ‘London’. Yes, I’m looking at you, Americans. It actually has quite a few other cities, towns, and villages – thousands, in fact.
However, although never originally intended to cater for primary school toilet humour, some places have strange names. For example, we have ‘The Wallops’, the ‘River Piddle’, ‘Sheepy Parva’ and ‘Sheepy Magna’, ‘Wetwang’, and so on. Then, for those whose minds have never left primary school, we have ‘Shitterton’, ‘Cocks’, ‘Bitchfield’, and many others.
All of these have completely logical etymologies – ‘Wallop’ for example (the three villages that comprise ‘The Wallops’ are ‘Upper Wallop’, ’Middle Wallop’, and ‘Nether Wallop’) is derived from the Anglo-Saxon or Old English words for stream (waella) and valley (hop), and is mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Wollop’. ‘Shitterton’ probably comes from the Old English word for sewer (scitere), meaning the place by the sewer. Even my own city of Nottingham was once called ‘Snottingham’ – or ‘’Snotengaham’ – and that began in the 6th Century when it was a settlement called ‘Snotta inga ham’ (‘Snotta’ was a person – a Saxon chieftain, whose people were the ‘Snotingas’ – ‘inga’ means ‘belonging to/the people of’, and ‘ham’ means ‘village/homestead’ in Anglo-Saxon). Nottingham appears in the Domesday Book as ‘Snotingeham’ and ‘Snotingham’. The ancients seemed happy to move vowels around and vary the consonants a bit without worrying about consistency, but you get the general idea. They were never intended as rude names, and they aren’t rude names.
As an aside, when I was seven, I began to support Arsenal Football Club. I freely admit that it was the ‘arse’ part which attracted me, but I grew up, and by the time I was learning German and French at school the desire to laugh at words which ‘sounded’ like rude things but weren’t had long since passed. Not so for many of my peers – a certain Mr Spence in my class found enormous humour in words like ‘fuchs’ (fox), and sought out every opportunity to say them loudly and with great emphasis.
Of course, and back to the present, in the last few years all hell has broken loose. Even place names that even once related to someone who lived in colonial times are under scrutiny. Most of the time they shouldn’t be, but such is the mindset of people today. And that leads further in the direction this discussion is going.
On the south coast of England – and no, Americans, I don’t mean ‘London’ – there is a coastal city known as ‘Plymouth’. It’s in the county of ‘Devon’ (which is also not in ‘London’). There’s no real problem with that name, because there’s a Plymouth in the USA, too. However, the original one in the UK has a seafront on a limestone cliff that is called ‘Plymouth Hoe’. The word ‘hoe’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘hoh’, which means ‘a sloping ridge in the shape of a heel or foot’. The same Saxon word is in the root of another place name in the UK called ‘Sutton Hoo’ (the inconsistent spelling of the same word by the ancients, again). Plymouth Hoe is known as ‘the Hoe’ to people who live there. As you can see, there is nothing untoward in any of this, and nor has there been for centuries. The name simply related to the Anglo-Saxon word for the geographical feature it is built on.
Enter: Facebook. The refuge of those with primary school minds and intellects.
It seems that a group on there which is based in Devon had been having posts removed and users receiving warnings for breaching ‘community standards on harassment and bullying’. Some were even banned from posting. It seems that one user had been making hats, and had forgotten to mention where people could pick them up from. So she said ‘Plymouth Hoe’.
Although the actual mechanics of what happened after this are extremely unclear – was it a manual report by someone or an automated software action – this was what triggered the removals and bans.
Facebook has apologised and has said it is ‘looking into what happened’. My money would be on some prat trawling Facebook groups looking through a dictionary of words, which they then automatically complain about and have removed. Seriously, some people on Facebook (a hell of a lot of them, actually) only use it for this purpose these days anyway.
Some forums use automated checkers which are basic at best. You’d probably never get ‘Shitterton’ past the censor, for example. My own local newspaper will happily write an article about the discovery of a cannabis factory being shutdown by the police, but woe betide anyone who uses the word ‘cannabis’ in the comments section. It immediately goes to ‘awaiting moderation’, and it is 50:50 whether it will be approved once one of the trained monkeys (aka moderators) has looked at it.
Regular readers will know that I usually attend quite a few rock concerts each year. I actually had several lines up for 2020, but they were all cancelled for obvious reasons – and there would have been more. But, by God, am I missing them right now!
Another good source is NOW 70s on Sky. Right now it is on Channel 361 (but it tends to move around a bit depending on Sky’s fairly regular channel reorganisations, and also available on Virgin and Freesat). If you catch it right, there’s lots of rock and punk, but if you get unlucky, there’s far too much disco. I mean, as everyone knows, the best decades for music were the late 60s and the 70s – up until disco ushered in the 80s. And as everyone also knows, the 80s onwards was absolutely crap for music – though if you really must, there is a NOW 80s channel, too (there’s also a NOW 90s, which is worse still, and there were others – but music was so crap in those decades that they were cut, hence Sky’s last channel restructuring around the music channels).
Then, of course, there good old CD, DVD, and BluRay (and streaming). You can get any band you want that way in whatever format you prefer. I get most of mine from Amazon.
I have had my parents vaccinated. They both received the Pfizer jab. The only concern I have is that their second jab is scheduled for March, in line with this government’s ‘expert’ appraisal of the situation.
Much was made of the approval process of the vaccine in the first place – all the stuff about examining the data properly and not cutting any corners. The data they have from Pfizer and BioNTech very specifically relate to having a jab on Day One, then receiving a booster jab on Day Twenty One. Nothing else, just that. There are no data which directly looked at giving the booster after three months instead of three weeks.
But our ‘experts’ have somehow decided that it is OK to have the second jab on Day Ninety (or thereabouts). This is primarily driven by vaccine availability, though we won’t admit to that and it is therefore officially explained away as ‘trying to get as many people as possible protected because the jab is almost completely effective after one dose anyway’. Then there’s a bit of standard government obfuscation thrown just in case it still made any sense even then.
However, an Israeli study – and Israel rolled out the vaccine much more effectively than we did, even if we approved it before the French or the Germans (a major detail to far too many in this country) – suggests that the first dose might only be 33% effective instead of the 90% figure we somehow came up with back in December.
You couldn’t make this up if you tried. The Pfizer/BioNTech jab requires shots 21 days apart. Nothing else. Three months has not been part of clinical trials, and is a theoretical mathematical computation – which is now being questioned – albeit non-peer reviewed – by real data from Israel. At the very least, it means ‘90% effective’ is probably wrong, and the real figure lies in some as yet unknown middle ground between 33% and 90%.
I was concerned at the decision to change it to three months when I heard about it, because I knew what the clinical trials had been based on. But I grudgingly accepted what our ‘experts’ said. But now I don’t – or at least, I’m not so sure.
It. Should. Be. Twenty. One. Days. And. Not. Three. Months. Between. Shots.
That’s what Pfizer’s clinical trials studied, and ONLY that.
I just placed my weekly Asda shop – well, updated my weekly delivery for tomorrow – and discovered something very interesting. And very annoying.
They have no cucumbers, no grapes, no sweetclems, no broccoli, no aubergines, and various missing choices for other fruits and vegetables. It’s the worst I’ve seen it, and that includes anytime other than a couple of weeks at the start of the first lockdown, after which it calmed down.
In the first lockdown, items which ended up selling out due to stockpiling were along the lines of pasta, toilet rolls, rice… stuff that could be, well… stockpiled. All the items this time only last a few days, and do not fit into the stockpiling bracket in any way whatsoever. If people were going to stockpile things to eat almost without preparation, it would be snacks and frozen food – not fresh fruit and veg.
That hasn’t stopped the Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, from claiming empty supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland are due to COVID, and not the little matter of Brexit. No one agrees with him, though.
We already know as an absolute fact that Brexit is screwing up at least some imports. Even The Brexit Daily (aka Daily Mail) reported a few days ago that there had been delays in ‘cauliflower packs, citrus fruit, aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms, strawberries…’ which had already resulted in shortages on shelves. Another source reports Brexit-specific delays to around half of the normal import shipments, affecting fruits, seafood, and meat.
The real explanation is that Brexit HAS caused it, and COVID is simply making things a whole lot worse than it had done while it was still working alone.