WELL, the cat is out of the bag. Brexit visionary Nigel Farage has finally admitted the truth – that Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster for households and businesses across these islands.

Speaking on Newsnight on Mondaythis week, he said “We have not benefited from Brexit … we are driving business away from this country … Brexit has failed.”

Brexit has failed, pure and simple.

I take no pleasure in his admittance of defeat. In fact, I’m angry. The charlatans of Brexit promised the world with their fingers crossed behind their backs.

Back in 2016, Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed that the price of food “will go down” after Brexit.

Former Tory MEP and now a member of the House of Lords, Daniel Hannan, claimed that our “food bills will be lower” as did former UKIP MP Douglas Carswell.

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The facts speak for themselves. The cost of basic staples has gone up by as much as 80%. The prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose at the fastest rate in more than 45 years in the 12 months to March 2023.

Annual inflation in this area is at 19.2% whilst the loss of output for the UK economy is estimated at £100,000,000,000 billion.

The cost to families is huge. A recent study by the Co-op and Barnardo’s has found that one in three young people (aged 10-25) have said their families are relying on food support such as food banks and community fridges.

One in four started their day without a meal. The same study shows that instead of aspiring towards traditional goals such as their dream job or buying a house, young people now aspire to have enough money to cover basic needs.

If young people cannot achieve their dreams here, then they will look to go somewhere they can.

Food price inflation is only set to get worse, with Brexit bureaucracy introducing import food checks from October this year.

From January next year, this will include a new fee (£43 a time) that must be paid for all goods that are eligible for border checks, including items such as chilled meat, dairy products and vegetables.

According to the UK Government’s own statistics, 46% of the food consumed in the UK was imported whilst more than 80% of the UK’s food supply comes from the UK and Europe.

As such, the increased costs to importers are estimated to be around £400 million – and these costs will inevitably be passed on to the consumer.

I’ve lost track of the amount of conversations I’ve had with farmers and other members of Scotland’s food and drink sector where they tell me how Brexit has hamstrung their businesses.

The loss of freedom of movement and the UK’s harsh immigration regime means that the seasonal workers they relied upon to harvest crops and plant their fields are no longer coming over. Brexit bureaucracy means fewer exports to the EU as well as more costly imports.

Meanwhile, the loss of EU funds weighs like a terrifying Damocles sword above their futures.

The UK, of course, is not the only country suffering from food inflation. Yet whilst the announcement by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of an investigation into the cost of producing food and the prices being paid by consumers is welcome, the crisis is now.

In France, the government has introduced a “price block” on staple products, with supermarkets pledging to keep the prices of certain food and hygiene products as low as possible.

In Poland and Spain, governments have reduced or in some cases removed VAT from food products.

Here, the Scottish Government has done its best to shield families from the cost of living crisis.

In the last financial year, they have allocated almost £3bn to help Scotland’s households in this challenging time. The Scottish child payment has been increased in value to £25 per child per week and expanded to eligible six to 15-year-olds.

As a result of the Scottish Government’s efforts, the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ analysis of Scottish tax and benefit reform has found that “amongst the poorest 30% of households, those with children will see their incomes boosted by around a sizeable £2000 a year on average, driven by higher benefits for families with children”.

Yet the money for this needs to come from somewhere. Without the full fiscal powers of independence, the Scottish Government has to reallocate funding from other services or investments to save lives from UK austerity and incompetence.

Meanwhile, the UK has the power to act but refuses to do so. Where a sanitary and phytosanitary agreement with the EU would support our farming enterprises, the UK is strangely silent.

Where easing visa restrictions to ensure our farmers can produce more food without it going to waste, the UK remains irresponsibly hostile.

And instead of encouraging cooperation between UK and EU agencies on common standards, sharing information and working together, the UK remains intransigent on working alongside our nearest neighbours.

And what would Labour do differently? Keir Starmer continues to insist that he’ll make the unworkable Brexit work. Whether it be a red Brexit or a blue Brexit the outcome remains the same – rising costs, falling living standards and the UK being the sick man of Europe.

Independence in Europe remains the best future for Scotland. There is also a cautionary tale in Brexit though – failure to plan means planning to fail. We know our case is solid but we must not rest on our laurels; we must continue refining the arguments for independence.

By showing how we will do things differently with independence, we will persuade the undecideds – and that is a future worth advocating for.