Empty shelves, hardly any petrol at the filling stations, 100,000 truck drivers missing, inflation is rising, record prices for energy, the economy has been sounding the alarm for weeks. But Brexit-Boris sees no reason to intervene …

On the contrary: He does not see the dilemma, which is mainly due to Brexit, on the side of politics. “It is not the job of the government to step in and solve every problem,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.

And then he also quotes Margaret Thatcher’s maxim from the 1980s: “A famous quote says: ‘There is no alternative. There is no alternative.’”

The Tory party presents itself unusually harmonious after years of Brexit tussle. Apart from the bitter dispute with Brussels over the status of Northern Ireland, the exit from the EU no longer plays a role.

The party members, so the impression, want to be entertained as well as possible. One of the best-attended events is a chat with MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who shares anecdotes about the 19th century naval war hero, Vice-Admiral Nelson.

It doesn’t seem so harmonious when you leave the conference area and go out into the street. There are angry pig farmers and butchers who feel that Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy has been delivered to the knife. They swing posters with slogans like: “Look here, Boris! You’re killing our industry! “

“Have you ever eaten a bacon sandwich?”

Corona and Brexit – this mix brought his business to the brink of ruin, complains Adam Cheale, who runs a slaughterhouse in the county of Essex. During the pandemic, his overseas employees went home to avoid being stuck without a job in the UK, he says. Now they would not come back because of the stricter immigration rules since Brexit. As a result, tens of thousands of pigs will soon have to be culled and burned. The entry rules for skilled workers from abroad need to be relaxed, says Cheale, but Johnson just doesn’t listen.

Johnson’s answer to this also belongs more in the entertainment category than politics. Being killed is what usually happens to pigs in this country, he jokes in the numerous TV and radio interviews during the conference. A radio presenter who asks him about the problem, he answers persistently with the counter-question: “Have you ever eaten a bacon sandwich?”

Johnson was accompanied to the party conference by his pregnant wife CarriePhoto: Julie Edwards / Avalon

The problem with the shortage of skilled workers is also behind the fuel crisis that has been under control in the UK for a week and a half. One has almost got used to the sight of miles of queues in front of the gas stations, in which the British line up almost stoically. The country is estimated to be missing an estimated 100,000 truck drivers. But the offer of the government in London to issue temporary visas for a few months of work in Great Britain has only been accepted by around 130 long-distance drivers, as the prime minister has to admit.

Corona as an excuse

But if you believe him, then the bottlenecks, which also lead to partially empty supermarket shelves, have little to do with Brexit and a lot to do with the pandemic, from which the global economy is now recovering with a huge surge in demand. The country is in a transition phase towards higher wages and higher productivity, enthuses Johnson. “Uncontrolled immigration” like in the days of EU membership will no longer exist, he makes clear.

David Henig, a trade expert with the UK Trade Policy Project think tank, can’t help laughing at Johnson’s logic. He considers the prime minister’s arguments to be “pure rhetoric” and made up ad hoc. The chances that better-paid jobs could actually arise from the crisis are “very slim,” he says.

Still, Johnson seems to get away with it. “He just has the“ magic touch ”,” Henig continues – by which he means Johnson’s magical ability to convince people of his arguments. It just has to sound good, and whether it is true will no longer matter in a few months when the headlines are again dominated by other topics, says Henig.