As MPs are due back in parliament to debate Brexit, Britain’s food retailers warn that a no deal Brexit would affect the country’s food security.
Food retailers including Sainsbury’s, Co-Op, Lidl, KFC, Asda, Pret-A-Manger, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer warned MPs “our supply chains are closely linked to Europe — nearly one third of the food we eat in the UK comes from the EU.”
The open letter to MPs from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned MPs to avoid leaving the EU without a deal.
Trading on WTO rules would lead to price hikes and shortages the retailers warned.
Popular fresh foods would disappear from shelves they warned.
Intervention comes on the eve of a Commons debate on amendments to the Brexit vote, including stopping a damaging no deal Brexit occurring and delaying Brexit beyond March 29, giving all parties concerned more time.
The letter warns allowing a no deal Brexit to occur would lead to “significant disruption” to Britain’s food supplies.
Even if the UK government decides to avoid doing border checks on food coming in, there would still be “major disruption” and”long delays” at Calais, the BRC warn.
The high street food retailers warn: “government data suggest freight trade between Calais and Dover may reduce by 87 per cent against current levels as a result.
“For consumers, this will reduce the availability and shelf life of many products in our stores.”
They add: “only around 10 per cent of our food imports, a fraction of the products we sell, is currently subject to tariffs so if the UK were to revert to WTO Most Favoured Nation status, as currently envisaged in the no-deal scenario, it would greatly increase import costs, which could in turn put upward pressure on food prices.”
And the letter is a reality check for hard line Brexiteers who advocate zero tariffs as a possibility – this would be “devastating” for UK farming, warns the BRC.
This weekend the Sunday Times revealed government has been gaming a state of emergency and even the introduction of martial law in the event of disorder after a no-deal Brexit.
Curfews, bans on travel, confiscation of property and, most drastic, the deployment of the armed forces to quell rioting are among the measures available to ministers under the legislation if there is civil unrest.
Photo (c) Daniel Case (Creative Commons)