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Wetherspoons has been hit with beer shortages due to Brexit and Covid

The fact its boss Tim Martin was a staunch Brexiteer who ordered 1.9 million Brexit-themed beer mats for his pubs has not been lost on people.

Pub chain Wetherspoons has become the latest major business to be hit with supply issues due to a lack of HGV drivers.

Certain beers including Carling and Coors are off the menu in some venues owing to a “lack of lorry drivers and strike action”, according to a sign in one pub captured by Twitter user Graham Hughes.

Fast-food chains and supermarkets are also being disrupted by supply shortages as the lack of drivers causes disarray.

A survey by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) in August estimated there was a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000.

Nando’s was the first major outlet forced to take drastic action when it shut 50 branches in mid-August. Chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association Nick Allen warned the closures were just “the tip of the iceberg” and more would be on the way due to labour problems that started with Brexit.

The fact Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin was a staunch Brexiteer who ordered 1.9 million Brexit-themed beer mats for his pubs has not been lost on people, with the news sparking quite the reaction online.

JD Wetherspoon spokesperson Eddie Gershon said: “We are experiencing some supply problems with both Carling and Coors, which means that some pubs do not have the products available.

“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.

“We know that the brewers are trying to resolve the issue.”

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Supply issues are also threatening corner shops and convenience stores, which are having to work “incredibly hard” to keep stock on shelves.

James Lowman, CEO of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), which represents more than 33,500 local shops, said small businesses were worried about the future.

He told The Big Issue: “They are overworked and frustrated at having incomplete deliveries, deliveries turning up late or not turning up at all. And further up the supply chain they are also very concerned.

“The government has taken action on some things, like the change in self-isolation rules. But there are fundamental problems the government has said it won’t solve, like extending visas for EU workers in distribution [the government this week rejected calls for temporary visas for EU workers to help ease the supply issues].”

Lowman acknowledged seasonal ups and downs were having an impact and said there were currently global supply issues stemming from the Suez Canal blockage and a lack of shipping containers. He also said there were backlogs in approving licences at the DVLA meaning drivers who want to work can’t get on the road.

But given the government’s stance on EU workers’ visas in particular, he added: “Fundamentally, we can’t see a time where it becomes easier to fix supply issues.”

Covid restrictions and workers having to self-isolate are also said to be a factor in the shortages. And one driver told The Big Issue poor working conditions were also pushing people out of the industry.

Here’s a round-up of everywhere we know has been affected.

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