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Brexit leaves Britain pining for Christmas trees

Britain previously relied on foresters from Eastern Europe. Brexit is now putting its stock of Christmas trees at risk.

A stack of Christmas trees - which will be in short supply this year. Photograph: Getty Images.

It has been a gloomy week on the sunlit uplands of sovereign Britain, with the impending shortage of Christmas trees mentioned here a couple of weeks back giving Brits the needle.

When rumours of a tree shortage first surfaced in early September, Brexiteers (whose hollow protestations of late mean they really should be renamed “nothing to do with Brexit”-eers) reached for alternative explanations.

The lack of trees was down to a botched mink cull in Denmark, or because of climate change (good to see more Leavers acknowledging climate change exists, now it can be used as an excuse).

But while those things have played a part, as ever there is a Brexit-shaped elephant in the room. Mark Rofe, owner of an online Christmas tree retailer, said: “Our main grower supplies the market with 100,000 trees each year and employs between 50 and 70 workers during the peak of the season.

“In previous years they were reliant on foresters, mostly from Eastern Europe who would come over for the harvest and then would return to their home country afterwards, but since the Brexit transition they just aren’t able to come over to work now.”

Making matters worse is the fact that demand for British trees is higher than ever, because of another Brexit-shaped elephant. Mr Rofe added that his growers were seeing an increase in demand “from clients who would usually import their trees from Europe, but are keen to avoid any red tape that could increase costs or cause delays.”

So never mind the baubles about “you can’t blame Brexit”, here’s the truth: Fewer trees harvested because of Brexit and fewer trees imported because of Brexit mean there’s not much chance of rocking around the Christmas tree this year, then, unless it’s artificial. 

A prospect that might make even the “nothing to do with Brexit”-eers pine for the good old days when we were in the EU.

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