We’re noticing an increase in stories like this appearing in the media: Food expert warns Brexit could lead to rationing … and the UK is ‘less prepared than in 1939’. They all have a broadly similar theme, namely that in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU with a no deal Brexit, we’re heading into uncharted waters. A growing number of commentators are saying that one of the consequences of a chaotic no deal Brexit will be disruption to food supplies. They’re also saying that this country is unprepared to adequately deal with the disruption that could well occur.
With the government embroiled in bitter in-fighting as to what Brexit will mean, with only months left, they haven’t got a leg to stand on when it comes to negotiating with the EU. If anyone is hoping that the EU would grant Theresa May’s shambolic government an extension on the Article 50 negotiations, basically, forget about it. This is what the EU has to say on that idea: Article 50 extension would need major shift in UK politics, say EU officials.
Bear in mind that elements on the right want a no deal Brexit as it will give them free rein for the introduction of shock doctrine, disaster capitalism: Trump’s visit marks the start of shock doctrine Brexit. This involves the dismembering of what’s left of a tattered welfare state as the UK is turned into a de-regulated offshore haven for the rich and a bleakly precarious service economy workhouse for the rest of us. Which is not what the majority of the working class people who voted for Brexit had in mind in any way shape or form. Basically, we’re being thrown under the bus in what almost feels like a coup executed by the right.
When we bang on about the urgency of developing neighbourhood resilience, it’s because there will be a desperate need for it: Neighbourhood solidarity and resilience. Neighbourhoods where there’s a degree of community spirit and people look out for and after each other will weather the coming chaos a lot better than those that are atomised and where there’s a lack of trust between people. Working with Basildon & Southend Housing Action and the Vange Hill Community Group, we’re only just scratching the surface of building a degree of neighbourhood resilience on the two estates where we have a presence.
At this point, it’s best to assume that the worst is going to happen and start preparing for it. We’ll look at various ways this can be done over the coming months. What we’ll do with this piece is offer the suggestion that it’s a good idea for people to start digging or getting the raised beds and soil in and start planting and growing. This doesn’t just mean digging over the back garden for those who have them – it also means collectively working with neighbours to develop community vegetable gardens. Working on a community plot not only has the obvious benefit of ensuring a supply of fresh vegetables – it’s also a way of building the neighbourhood solidarity and resilience that we’ll need.
When it comes to community vegetable plots, if you can identify a suitable site on your estate, just go for it: Guerilla gardening – just do it! On the two estates we operate on, there are a number of small pocket gardens that have been set up by residents without going through a laborious process of asking the council for permission. So far, the council haven’t batted an eyelid and to be honest, they haven’t got the resources to start trying to force the closure of community gardens. We’re being thrown under the bus and we shouldn’t have to apologise for expropriating land that will be used to grow the food we need: Expropriation of land.
Collectively taking this land back to feed ourselves is what we have to do to secure a food supply we can trust. It’s also the first step in empowering ourselves by gaining more control over our lives and communities. From this, we can start taking back control from a system that only serves the rich and build a new, sane and sustainable one that meets the needs and aspirations of the majority. Let’s start digging for victory…our victory!