EMPTY shelves continue in supermarkets the length and breadth of the country. It’s strange to see how it can change weekly from certain products to entirely different lines. A little bit of it may be blamed on coronavirus. People are being ‘pinged’, as have I, and absences are having an effect on some businesses.

But, in the main, this is down to Brexit. The proof is that these shortages aren’t being experienced on the continent or even in the Republic of Ireland. Supermarkets there remain stocked and shelves full.

This is down to Brexit delusions of “sunny uplands” and no downside. Yet it’s impacting commerce and consumers across the board. No wonder the NFU have been seeking changes to immigration rules to avoid the catastrophe of crops rotting in fields and produce lying undelivered to stores. This idiocy needs fixed – and fast – and the delusions of Brexit jettisoned.

Changes must be made allowing for the workers required to be able to come. We rightly have taken in Afghan refugees and there’s both space and need for others who over recent years have been coming from Europe. Our communities have been enhanced by them and are benefitting from those who continue to live here.

As the NFU have been speaking out on immigration, so have the churches on poverty, rightly expressing their concern at the ending of the uplift to Universal Credit. Information I received from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that 8,380 (20 per cent) of working-age families in East Lothian will be hit by this and, even more worryingly, 4,450 (36 per cent) of those with children. The £20 cut is deep and wounding. Hardship is being forced upon people and, as the film producer Ken Loach has commented, it’s “conscious cruelty”.

This too needs abandoned but the Tory Government remains intransigent as ever. Prices are rising but wages aren’t matching them. As we shielded the vulnerable from Covid, we must do so from poverty.