MPs warn of ‘disastrous’ impact of no-deal Brexit for UK food and drink industry

A parliamentary committee has warned that a no-deal Brexit would be ‘disastrous’ for food and drink firms in the UK, according to BBC News.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee said leaving without a deal would have a ‘seismic impact’ and a free trade deal should be a top priority.

The UK’s food and drinks industry is the nation’s largest manufacturing sector, valued at £28.8bn and with 400,000 employees. Committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “The success of the industry has been highly dependent on participating in the [EU] single market and customs union.

“To ensure the continued success of our food and drinks industry, the government must provide clarity and certainty on our future relationship with the EU and seek continued regulatory, standards, and trading alignment with the EU in the processed food and drink sector.”

Exports of UK processed foods such as chocolate, cheese, beef, pork and soft drinks would be impacted by leaving without a deal when the transition period is due to end in December 2020, according to the committee.

The MPs said that defaulting to World Trade Organization rules “would not be an acceptable outcome for the sector and would seriously jeopardise the competitiveness of UK exports.

“The government should also seek to replicate all existing EU trade deals with third countries, as they constitute our biggest export destinations.”

Chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation Ian Wright said the committee’s report was “an extremely valuable contribution to the debate about the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU.”