Tories and Labour urged to recognise impact of Brexit on food supply

Rejoining single market must be considered as part of a ‘rational and pragmatic approach’ to food supply issues – Ben Lake MP

Plaid Cymru agriculture spokesperson in Westminster, Ben Lake MP, has urged the UK Government and opposition to recognise the “undeniable” impact of Brexit on the UK’s food supply.

As Rishi Sunak aims to convince his backbenchers to support a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol, Mr Lake said that “back in the real world”, the impact of Brexit was being sharply felt by consumers.

He said that the UK Government’s failure to build resilience into the UK’s domestic food supply since 2016 had made it “vulnerable and exposed to shocks”, and added that a “trade policy that makes imports into the UK more difficult” and labour shortages due to a “restrictive post-Brexit immigration system” made the UK particularly exposed.

The Ceredigion MP referenced research by the NFU showing that soaring energy costs, combined with a lack of people to pick crops had led to signicicant increases in the cost of growing food in the UK, with the cost of growing tomatoes increasing by 27%.

Ben Lake MP said:

“The Conservative Party is this week yet again tearing itself apart over the purity of their Brexit deal. Back in the real world, supermarket shelves are bare, and neither the Conservatives nor Labour will recognise the undeniable impact Brexit is having on our food supply. As the former Sainsbury’s CEO said this morning, the food sector has been ‘hurt horribly by Brexit’. 

“What should have happened since 2016 is for the UK Government to build resilience into our food systems by becoming more self-sufficient. The dependence on global supply chains for so many of our imports means that we are vulnerable and exposed to shocks—be they geopolitical, climate, production or logistical—that are completely beyond our control.

“The UK Government’s utter failure to build that self-sufficiency, coupled with a trade policy that makes importing into the UK more difficult than to other European countries, means that the UK is particularly exposed to shocks in global supply chains. I also support calls by the NFU for a review of the UK Government’s energy support scheme for businesses. If the UK Government fail to deliver proper support for agricultural businesses, they risk our domestic crop of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. 

“The lack of people to pick crops, caused by a restrictive post-Brexit immigration system, has also contributed to a significant increase in the cost of growing food in the UK. According to the NFU, the cost of producing tomatoes has increased by 27%.

“We must become more self-sufficient in our food production. A flexible immigration system and a close trading relationship is not contradictory to that aim. Rather, it is crucial for building resilience in our food supply. That’s why Plaid Cymru believes that rejoining the single market must be considered as part of a rational and pragmatic approach to solving these problems.”

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  • Carys Lloyd
    published this page in News 2023-02-24 14:50:24 +0000

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