Wimbledon without strawberries!?

The end of the world is nigh! Britain is about to be hit by a nationwide soft-fruit drought because all the Poles are going home, or just don’t fancy living in cow sheds any more.

With thousands of workers from Poland and other eastern European countries returning home to profit from their own booming economies, the reluctance to join the annual picking bonanza is being held up as evidence of Britain’s dwindling attraction as a destination for migrants willing to accept low wages or undertake unskilled jobs.

Good for them, I say! Poland sent you its poor, its tired, its huddled masses yearning to be rich and what did you do to them? You made them do all the crap jobs nobody else wanted and simultaneously sank the GBP. Now they’re coming home. Surprise, surprise!

I must say I’m deeply impressed at how all these fruit and veg growers managed to plant at least 50,000 tonnes more than they used to (one assumes) on the basis that all this cheap labour was available. Emphasis on the “was”. Short-sighted, perhaps, to plant so much in the expectation that all the Poles are going to hang around?

Of course, the crisis is not restricted to Summer Puddings and Wild Berry Crumbles. Oh no, it extends into the arena of home improvements too. Britain is about to be be flooded by a sea of dripping taps with people climbing atop half finished houses to wave at rescue helicopters that are busy ferrying Poles back home.

Despite its brain drain, Poland’s economy has been growing at a rapid rate – some 22 per cent, cumulatively, in the past four years (twice the rate of ours). Unemployment is down to 10 per cent (half of what it was four years ago). Wages are rising, as is the strength of the Polish zloty. A pound was worth more than seven zlotys when Poland joined the EU in 2004, but today it’s down to under four and a half. That’s a whole lot less of a reason to stay to do our plumbing and fruit picking. The editor of a London-based Polish newspaper recently said she thought that if the pound fell to three and a half zlotys, 70 per cent of our Poles would pack their bags.

I think it’s certainly time for Poles to get those bags out of the attic and freshen them up a little! Also for Britain to review that policy of restricting access to Romanians, Bulgarians and the like.

Assuming there is a mass repatriation (is that the right word?), I wonder what long term consequences this might have on Anglo-Polish relations, also on British immigration policy in the future. This must be the first case of “locust-immigration”. They come in swarms, they take what they can, they leave.


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