The other day a freak worm-hole in the space-time continuum delivered to me fragments of news reporting from some time around the middle of 2020; evidently items about the ongoing riots that started soon after Britain crashed out of the EU with no deal in March 2019. It seems the sudden loss of subsidies from the EU rapidly drove out of business a large proportion of farmers in Wales and elsewhere, forcing them to sell their farms at knock-down prices to wealthy individuals keen to set up private hunting lands. At the same time, importing and exporting was rapidly becoming nigh-on impossible because the whole of Kent and the area around Calais were gridlocked with trucks. Those carrying perishable goods had abandoned the attempt, with the result that supermarket shelves across the country emptied in a rush of panic buying.
The media weren’t sure how to handle reporting of these events; after all, most of them had been clamouring for a hard Brexit for the past couple of years so we could show those bloody foreigners who was boss. The Daily Mail went for Remainers and anyone from Europe unwise enough to still be living here, while the Express adopted a darker tone, suggesting that gays and racial minorities were to blame.
The riots were not just about food, though. Enough EU nationals had already left that the NHS suffered a complete melt-down, making it almost impossible to get treatment without paying to go private. The media made a big thing of empty wards and much of the anger was directed at the hospitals themselves, with frequent outbreaks of looting by enterprising gangs eager to make a profit from the drugs and equipment that were now not being used.
As with events in previous years, interruptions to the supply of road fuel caused widespread panic, exacerbating the very shortages people were scared of. As queues lengthened tempers shortened. Fuel stations started to hire private guards to keep undesirables away, preferring to serve only their regular, favoured customers. With the food shortages this made things worse still as people used up all their remaining fuel driving around looking for something to put in the pantry or the freezer. The freak hot summer of 2019 did nothing to cool tempers and gangs roamed freely looking for trouble.
The police force became increasingly stretched, unable to deal with so many pressure points. The Conservative government responded by issuing guns to police officers in order to defend themselves and the public. Parliamentary business was suspended, a state of emergency declared and powers taken to deal firmly with rioters.
And there the fragments ended, with no indication of what was to follow.