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There are reasons to boycott Morrisons. Their daft anti-EU chicken label isn’t one of them

As Twitter goes full-on berserko over the "non-EU salt and pepper" crisis, the fact that shoppers and staff at the supermarket are about to be stuffed appears to have been forgotten

A store sign at a branch of Morrisons supermarket in Camden. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images

Beyond being a glorious opportunity for roasting a supermarket’s social media team, does the labelling of a Morrisons’ chicken as containing “non-EU salt and pepper” tell us anything about post-Brexit Britain?

Not really. But social media’s reaction to it does. Oh, boy, does it.

“Remainer Twitter mob forces Morrisons to change packaging of £4 roast-in-the-bag British chicken” rages the headline on Mailonline his morning.

Oh, the heady thrill of power! If only the Remainer Twitter mob had been so effective when it came to changing people’s minds about how to vote on June 23, 2016.

Twitter, as is Twitter’s wont, has gone full-on berserko over the non-EU salt and pepper crisis, with those aggravated falling into one of three camps: Remainers furiously vowing never to darken Morrison’s door again; Brexiteers delighting in all their “snowflake tears” shed over a bag of chicken; and the perennial members of the humourless from both camps insisting on taking the matter very seriously indeed.

In a week where we are facing-off with France over fishing rights, when a fresh-wave of Brexit-related violence flared in Northern Ireland, when Ryanair decide to pull the airline from an increasingly-embattled London Stock Exchange in preference for an EU listing, when the Office of Budget Responsibility says Brexit will hit the economy twice as hard as Covid, then a bit of a laugh over a Morrisons chicken seems like a reasonable enough distraction. But not much more than that.

Morrisons apologised for what it called a labelling error, blaming a misunderstanding of packaging regulations.

If one could be bothered, one might add this “error” to the suspiciously long list of anti-EU nods and winks on Morrisons shelves.

Remember the Brussels Sprouts that suddenly became “British Sprouts” – which, technically they are, having been grown in Yorkshire, but really? Who’s buying the line that this was merely geographical accuracy and not political opportunism?

Morrison’s is also the only British supermarket never to have stocked The New European, on grounds of it being, unlike The Mail, The S*n and The Telegraph, “political”.

To those cynics who suggest this has drawn out my petty and spiteful side, (never far from the surface) all I can say is, absolument!

But if you’re looking for reasons to boycott Morrisons, there are better than their non-EU salt and pepper on their roast chicken.

Morrisons salt & pepper chicken crown with non-EU salt and pepper. Photo: Carolyn Guse via Twitter.

What was, under the inspirational leadership of Sir Ken Morrison, who took his dad’s grocery store and turned it into the fourth biggest chain of British supermarkets, is soon to be owned by a bunch of US private equity vultures.

The £7bn deal agreed by the Morrisons Board, and now under investigation by the competitions watchdog for fear it will lead to price rises for shoppers , would be anathema to Sir Ken.

When Sir Ken died, aged 85, in 2017, the Morrisons Chairman Andrew Higginson said this:

“Ken will be remembered for his great love of Morrisons. To honour his memory in the most appropriate way we can, we will continue to develop the company that he built and loved.”

Four years later, the same Andrew Higginson is honouring Sir Ken’s memory by presiding over the deal to the private equity Americans, in which the staff, suppliers, and customers will inevitably share one thing in common with those four quid chickens.

They’ll end up well and truly stuffed.

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