As Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury, clutched the supermarket lemons in his hands on the warm September evening, an idea came to him. Forgetting, briefly, the spaghetti vongole recipe he had been shopping for, he turned to his partner. “What better place to proselytise over the benefits of Brexit than in a common supermarket?” he exclaimed, startling the other shoppers around him. “The people of Britain shall find knowledge and clarity in my news, that this mere fruit can exemplify the benefits of leaving the EU! David … DAVID, get a picture of me with this lemon!”
Unfortunately, the online masses didn’t share Kawczynski’s enthusiasm for using fruit to make a statement about Brexit.
The Tory MP was widely mocked on Twitter this week after trying to prove that EU trade tariffs mean costlier produce, with the help of fruit from his local Tesco. Most of the supermarket fruit had been sourced from non-EU countries, where EU tariffs have no impact.
In a tweet earlier this week, Kawczynski shared a picture of himself in front of lemons, oranges, and limes, with the caption, “Now at Tescos in Shrewsbury. Please remember EU protectionist racket means inefficient EU growers preferred to other non-EU Mediterranean growers, due to massive tariffs imposed by EU. This leads to you paying more for your products! No more after March 2019! #Brexit.” Zing!
The problem was that Kawczynski wasn’t holding fruit imported from the EU. As pointed out by Twitter user Jim Cornelius, he was holding lemons from South Africa, limes from Mexico, and oranges from Egypt—all countries the UK currently holds free trade deals with, meaning neither side has to pay extra to trade food. Consequently, the price of fruit we import from these places won’t get any cheaper after Brexit.
“Hi Daniel,” Cornelius wrote. “I zoomed in on your photo, and couldn't see clearly—but—at this time of year, almost certainly, those lemons are imported from South Africa. They come in on a 0 percent tariff under the entry price system.”
This was the case for all the fruit in Kawczynski’s picture, and indeed most of the fruit we find in our supermarkets at this time of year. Lemons, limes, oranges, kiwis, blueberries, and pineapples—all produce that won’t get cheaper after an abolition of EU trade tariffs.
In fact, these fruits are probably going to get more expensive, what with us no longer having trade deals with the numerous EU countries that supply most of our fruit and veg during the rest of the year after Brexit. Or, you know, we could just run out of food.
Always encouraging to see that your MPs are clued up on the important issues.