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Agri-food players express dismay as latest Brexit votes fail

The UK House of Commons last night rejected four options for a possible way forward on Brexit, leaving agri-food players calling for a further delay or reversal of the process

This article is powered by EU Food Law

The UK food industry today called for an extension to the Brexit process to avoid any cliff edge departure from the EU by the UK. The call comes as a “no deal” Brexit looks ever more likely with the rejection by MPs last night of any consensual way forward.

In the Commons votes on Monday, MPs rejected a customs union with the EU by three votes. A motion to hold another referendum received the most votes in favour, but still lost. The votes were “indicative” meaning they were not binding but would have at least indicated the direction MPs wanted to take.

Under the current law, the UK is now due to leave the EU on April 12 with or without a deal.

Speaking in response to last night’s vote in the House of Commons, Ian Wright, chief executive of the UK Food and Drink Federation, said the MPs’ failure to reach a majority for one or more options in Parliament “shatters hopes of progress”.

“Business confidence in the political leadership is in real danger of running out. With no apparent Parliamentary majority for any potential way forward, and a no-deal crisis on April 12 2019 looming, the only common sense approach left is for the UK to request a sufficient extension to article 50 to allow a complete re-think and a different kind of consensus to emerge,” Wright said.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, which represents big supermarket chains, said parliamentarians were “playing a reckless game of chicken which will end in disaster” unless enough MPs could back a clear outcome which avoids a no deal Brexit.

“Unless the majority of MPs rally behind a plan of action that avoids no deal, it will be ordinary families who suffer higher prices and less choice on the shelves,” Dickinson said.

Article 50 “only safe way” to prevent “no deal”

The farmers’ union of Wales, the FUW, reacted to the vote stating that Article 50 revocation was the “only safe way” to stop the “ticking Brexit time bomb and respect parliament’s opposition to no-deal”.

“We are facing a national emergency in the form of a no-deal Brexit which is just days away,” FUW President Glyn Roberts, said.

“MPs have failed to reach agreement on a number of options, but the one thing that the UK parliament has rejected overwhelmingly is a no-deal Brexit, so this cannot be allowed to happen.

“The one way to ensure that this does not happen and that MPs have time to reach consensus is to revoke Article 50,” he added.

Stockpiling concerns

Research organisation IHS Markit said that UK manufacturing reported a surge in production and stock-building in March as companies prepared for Brexit, but also indicated a further switching of supply chains out of the UK by European customers.

IHS Markit said that while the manufacturing upturn may temporarily lift economic growth in the first quarter, longer term downside risks have increased.

“The temporary boost will likely move into reverse and EU supply chains could continue to divert away from the UK, depending of course on the Brexit developments in coming months,” the company states.




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