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Brexit-related pumpkin shortage is all trick, no treat

Britain faces a shortage of pumpkins this Halloween, and fewer fireworks on November 5.

Wiltshire pumpkin farmer Mick Smales inspects his crop. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

It has been a gloomy week on the sunlit uplands of sovereign Britain, as Boris Johnson’s popularity ratings sink deeper underwater than the sub in Vigil, taxpayers have their wages subbed to pay for social care and Brexit-related supply chain issues cause a shortage of subs in Subway shops.

Yet as summer ends, there is plenty to look forward to. Not Christmas, obviously, which we know will be hit by a lack of toys, turkeys and trees, all partly because of the B-word.

Or Bonfire Night, now likely to signal the start of a UK firework shortage for which the shipping container crisis must take most blame, though things aren’t helped by Brexit red tape jamming up our ports. It’s another total Fawkes-up.

Fewer Roman Candles and Catherine Wheels mean a quieter New Year’s Eve, which will suffer too from the ongoing scarcity of many booze brands.
Thank the devil, then, for Halloween, which will be totally normal. Except, that is, for a shortage of pumpkins.

Yes, there will be a dearth of the squashes for hollowing out on October 31, and yes, you can probably guess one of the reasons why. The UK’s lousy summer means growers here will have to wait longer to bring in crops, and Brexit means there are fewer EU citizens to harvest and deliver them.

Leaving the EU has not helped our access to supplies from some of the world’s top 10 pumpkin exporting countries either, including Spain (#1), the Netherlands (#3), Turkey (#5), Italy (#8), France (#9) and Portugal (#10). All tricks and no treats this Halloween.

So when will these infernal shortages end? While Johnson’s team predict things will be back to normal by the end of the year, the head of the Food and Drink Federation reckons absences of some goods will be permanent.

But whose verdict should we trust – that of the blustering serial liar or the well-informed expert?

Tough call, isn’t it?

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