THERE are only so many wheels that can fall off a wagon before it grinds to a halt in the dust.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trip to the US to meet President Joe Biden painfully put into perspective the UK’s elected representative’s standing on the global stage.

Mr Johnson was put in his place in an embarrassing way by Mr Biden over his Brexit promise of a new US trade alliance.

The Prime Minister must surely have had some sense of the reality of the potential free trade landscape.

He was told by then President Barack Obama in 2016 that the UK would be at the “back of the queue” on trade if it quit the European Union, and it now appears that is the case.

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The UK’s historic bridging role between the two continents looks redundant.

There were concerns raised again over maintaining the Northern Ireland Protocol and assurances given by Mr Johnson even as some say they consider it as good as “trashed”.

Mr Johnson said: "The Biden administration is not doing free trade deals around the world right now."

There was further tiresome smoke-screening over a future “great deal to be done”.

HeraldScotland: In the Oval Office. Picture: by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images.In the Oval Office. Picture: by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images.

The volatility of the country’s energy supply is being revealed, some face a heat or eat winter, supply chains are breaking down – exacerbated now by CO2 shortages – and Tesco is the latest to issue a Christmas warning as the HGV driver shortage shows little sign of improvement.

The problems we face are not all Brexit-related, but leaving the EU when we did – based on little in the way of fact – certainly placed us at a disadvantage we could have done without.

Much of the hardship is directly attributable to Brexit.

It does not seem like the same Britain. It seems now much diminished.

Furthermore, the rescue operation is being hampered. “As evidence of the UK’s labour market crisis mounts, with another survey this week highlighting the growth-sapping impact of shortages of workers, it seems the chances of the Boris Johnson administration taking the necessary steps to mitigate the fiasco are actually diminishing rather than increasing,” writes business editor Ian McConnell in his Called to Account column this week.

Labour shortages, vaccine passports in Scotland and what is claimed to be unclear guidance on night-time industries come when, “traditionally, autumn can be a fruitful month for Scottish tourism and the wider hospitality and events sector” deputy business editor Scott Wright says in his column this week.

“Unfortunately for those connected to tourism and hospitality, it is shaping up to be another challenging autumn as the reverberations of the pandemic are felt in myriad ways.” He points out that tourism and hospitality is one of a number of industries that are in the grip of a staff shortage crisis “that shows no sign of easing”.

Amid the competition for staff, there has been some growth in wage rates. “The fall-out from Covid has collided with Brexit to bring an end to one of the worst runs for wage growth in UK history, with business across all industries reporting a lack of suitable applicants,” writes business correspondent Kristy Dorsey in her Employment Focus this week.

“The ONS puts weekly earnings growing at a pace of somewhere between 3.5% and 4.9%.”

Better news from Europe as German life sciences company Sartorius reveals plans to create a new centre of excellence in Scotland.