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Tories and Labour urged to recognise Brexit impact on food supply

22 Feb 2023 3 minute read
Empty fruit and vegetable shelves. Photo Yui Mok PA Images

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

Mr Lake said the UK Government’s failure to build resilience into domestic food supplies 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 creates labour shortages due to a “restrictive post-Brexit immigration system” made the UK particularly exposed.

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

The cost of growing broccoli, onions and apples had also jumped by over 20% according to the research.

“The Conservative Party is this week yet again tearing itself apart over the purity of their Brexit deal,” Mr Lake said.

“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.”

Utter failure

“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,” he added.

“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 re-joining the single market must be considered as part of a rational and pragmatic approach to solving these problems.”


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John Davis
John Davis
1 month ago

Britain has long relied on imported EU fruit and veg during the winter. But since Brexit produce has been having a hard time making it from the EU without long delays and queues at ports, as shown by the noticeably shorter shelf lives lately. Now, imagine you are an EU tomato grower with a shortfall. There is enough demand to sell your whole crop inside the EU single market, where you face no barriers between countries. Why would you bother to incur the expense and inconvenience of shipping it to the UK, across the Brexit border? There is rationing in… Read more »

Alun
Alun
1 month ago

Da iawn Ben Lake

Windy
Windy
1 month ago

Stop making Bregret a dirty word, don’t b afraid to use it to silence the brexiteers

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

Brexit was right wing capitalism and war mongering.Utter lack of humanity

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago

Is Ben Lake saying Brexit has caused the snow in Morocco which has caused the current problem? I know brexit has its flaws but come on this is just plain stupid statements by politicians who should know better.

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