THE web is buzzing with black humour . . . the wine buff spitting out a mouthful of plonk and complaining: “No wonder it’s expensive, it tastes like petrol!”
A supermarket sign: “Wine now cheaper than fuel — drink, don’t drive.”
Or this offer from Sydney: “Have 20 litres of Premium Unleaded: Looking to swap for four-bedroom house.”
As pump prices top £2 a litre, we might soon look back on a £100 tankful as the good old days.
But it isn’t funny for those on fixed incomes and low pay, including many Sun readers.
Not for those with negligible savings and unwieldy mortgages. Nor for debt-burdened firms which have just emerged into post-pandemic sunlight.
Inflation, dismissed by the Bank of England a few months ago as a temporary blip, is exploding at the fastest rate in most people’s lifetimes.
The Bank’s official two per cent ceiling is long forgotten. The Consumer Price Index for household goods has passed 5.5 per cent. Retail prices have shot through eight per cent.
HM Treasury fears there is much worse to come. As Chancellor Rishi Sunak braces for next week’s crucial Spring Budget, some analysts see a stupendous TWENTY per cent cost-of-living bombshell heading our way.
At that rate, money loses its value at a terrifying rate, hitting the poorest hardest.
In the words of legendary American money guru Warren Buffett: “Cash is trash.”
Rishi will find help for the most vulnerable. But the world has witnessed nothing like this since the 1970s, when inflation almost hit 25 per cent and store staff raced to stick new price stickers on old.
And it is not just prices. Wage demands will spiral in hot pursuit. Shortages will bite, especially of food.
Good news is hard to find in this perfect storm. But there is a little, and it favours Britain.
For one thing, we have near-zero unemployment, unlike the legendary 1970s “Britain Isn’t Working” dole queues. We still grow food and could produce a lot more if we banned “re-wilding”.
We could tap oil, gas and coal resources and crack on with fracking. But the real plus for Britain is our historic ties with English-speaking democracies in the USA and the once-neglected Commonwealth.
The EU, still dependent on Russia for oil and gas, is most at risk to this crisis.
“Right now, Europe is the worst place in the world to be,” says a senior global analyst. “And the closer to the battlefield, the worse it is.”
Fertile Ukraine is the world’s bread basket. But with young men swapping ploughshares for Kalashnikovs, there will be no spring planting this year.
Russia is another vast grain producer. They won’t be sending any wheat West for a while. Russian-dominated Belarus also provides half the world’s crop fertilizer.
“We are looking at genuine food shortages,” the analyst warns. “In some parts of the world, we will see food riots.”
Britain, too, squandered much of its Iron Curtain peace dividend, cosied up to mega-rich ex-Soviet gangsters — and caved in to the dangerously naive Green lobby.
But our most valuable historic friendships lie to the West, with American and Commonwealth allies including huge food producers Canada, New Zealand and Australia, who have just signed a new trade deal.
We share common histories and unrivalled economic and security ties which countries such as France or Germany can only envy.
SIMPLY NOT TRUSTED
Even the Nato military alliance cannot rival the intimacy of the “Five Eyes” security pact between the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, which cooperates under impenetrable secrecy.
France, under President Emmanuel Macron, is simply not trusted.
Five Eyes was strengthened further by last year’s £30billlion AUCUS nuclear sub deal with America and Australia.
This is crucial as ambitious China studies the consequences of Russia’s military disaster in Ukraine. Mad Vlad’s invasion was intended to expose the West’s weaknesses. Instead it revealed our strengths.
It was the most timely possible signal to Russia, China and perhaps India that it is a mistake to underestimate the power of elected democracies.
Infiltration by assassins
MICHAEL GOVE’S wheeze to grab Roman Abramovich’s 15-bedroom mansion for Ukrainian refugees is a winner. It would house at least a dozen families.
Warm-hearted Brits, reduced to tears by TV images of terrified children, will rush to billet others.
But critics should pause before criticising Home Secretary Priti Patel’s caution over warzone evacuees.
Putin has publicly vowed revenge against Britain for bringing his tanks to a blazing halt.
He has proved his contempt for human life with a series of nerve agent killings on British soil.
Our intelligence services are right to insist we must be protected against infiltration by assassins alongside the innocent.