We all went to the polls last week, in the UK, to answer if we wanted to remain in the European Union or do we want to leave and go our own way? The “Leavers” won by a slim 52% to 48% margin of victory. Personally I was gutted, I was wandering round in a weird daze for a couple of days after thinking that this surely isn’t happening? But that’s my politics, and clearly not the politics of 52% of the country, so let’s leave that there. Let’s talk about what it might mean for our chosen subject, lovely wine!
The initial shitter is that the pound is getting an absolute hammering. Imports from Europe are more expensive as we dropped on the initial (extremely negative and nervy) reaction down to 1.18, from north of 1.40 a few weeks ago. So we’re looking at just shy of a 20% drop in value. So imports from Europe, i.e. French, Italian, and Spanish wine are that little bit more expensive. But the pound is weak all over the world and is capitulating against even stronger currencies like the AUD and the USD. Buying wine from there is even more expensive! It’s going to be a tight couple of months for UK wine drinkers!
I firmly believe that the initial reactions are one of shock and sadness and, to an extent, blind panic. The Leavers had/have no plan in place for what to do if we left and we’re now in some weird limbo where the two biggest parties in the UK, the Tories and Labour are imploding, and no one seems to want to take control of the situation. Once that happens – ok it may take a few months, but it will happen eventually (he says) – the GBP will stabalise and it’ll all be about trade agreements. The big countries of Europe will want strong trade agreements with the UK and its 60m consumers. Those bottles of Chablis are going nowhere!
I have seen recently that Australia especially are rubbing their hands at the prospect of a UK free to make its own trade deals. The wine lobbies will pressure the Aussie government to help spread Aussie wine love over to its commonwealth ally. New Zealand, South Africa et al will follow suit. Long story short, very little is likely to change on the wine choice on British shelves.
The one slight issue is taxes. Tax revenue will suffer from what will likely be a recession in the British economy as the world struggles to keep faith with a rudderless ship. Expect duty to rise (along with everything else), the marginal cost of which will effect the cheaper brand bottles more than anything. Corner shop drinkers might struggle to get much change from £5 going forward.
But otherwise I’m not too worried about what it’ll mean for the wine drinkers of the UK. What a result which clearly, and shockingly, highlighted the huge social divides in Britain and what that means for the rest of life in the UK? Maybe that’s for another day…
PS: THIS IS A PERSONAL OPINION, NOT COLD HARD FACT, PLEASE DON’T GET YOUR KNICKERS IN TOO MUCH OF A TWIST IF YOU DON’T AGREE!!