The worst thing that happened? Well, unless you've been living under a media blackout, you can probably guess what it is: Britain voted to leave the EU.
Brexit. What an absolute economic disaster. My fellow residents of the U.K. voted for a recession. They voted for the Pound to tank against other currencies. They voted for the price of petrol to increase. They voted for inward investment to cease. They voted for jobs and manufacturing to transfer to other parts of Europe. They voted for food prices to double.
Woah there! I can hear my Australian and American friends going "Hang on.... Food prices to double?" It doesn't sound comprehensible, does it? The fact of the matter is that Britain has not been self-sufficient in food since before the First World War. And I'm not talking grain. Prior to WW2, Britain imported 60% of its fresh produce. It still does. The vast majority of what goes on most people's tables comes from other parts of the EU. Another slab comes from as far afield as Kenya (strawberries) or Egypt (potatoes). Go food shopping in a supermarket in France or Spain or the Netherlands and you'll be hard pressed to find any produce that wasn't grown "in country" - the reverse is true here.
Well, say the Brexitiers, at least we won't be wasting money on the Common Agricultural Policy, subsidising farmers to produce butter mountains. It's an expensive waste of money, isn't it? Throughout the years I have lived in the UK, I have heard stories/complaints about the Common Agricultural policy: the butter mountains; the inefficiencies (keeping small farms alive instead of allowing them to go to the wall and be absorbed into agribusiness conglomerations); the abuses (Italy claiming to have more land producing tomatoes than its entire landmass); paying farmers to leave land fallow (so that biodiversity is preserved), etc...
I have always thought that they missed the point: the reason the Common Agricultural Policy exists in the first place is food security. It was devised when the memories of the famines and food shortages that followed WW2 were fresh in people's minds. People remembered starving. They starved before and during the War too. Germany remembered the great inflation of the 1920's, when the price of bread could double within an hour. France, Belgium and the Netherlands remembered starving during the War too, when the occupying Nazis employed the policy of feeding their war machine first, Der Vaterland second and the plebs third. With starvation fresh in your memory, wouldn't you subsidise farming to ensure food security?
I fully expect food prices to double in the next two years. Mark my words. It won't just be due to the Pound falling in value against the Euro, either. Britain is dependent on Europe for most of its foodstuffs. Right now, the other nations in the EU sell food to us on the same basis as they sell it internally - no tariffs; no additional taxes. Now, they will have a choice: sell internally to the other 26 countries, or put a tariff on and sell to the UK, who desperately want your food and are ripe to be milked...
Britain needs the EU far more than the EU needs Britain.