In a late addition – but as further support of Mike Parr’s blog on our potential fresh goods delivery problems should we leave the EU in any sort of muddle, his suggestions are now supported (although personally, I consider it rather late in the day) – by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) in a letter to both Michel Barnier and the Prime Minister.
It speaks volumes that it is sent to them both.
It suggests that the Prime Minister is acting in our interests just as much – or as little – as Michel Barnier, a Frenchman (in case we have forgotten).
There must be very, very, few occasions when that has been the case.
The BRC set out the case with devastating clarity:
50% of Britain’s food is imported, and of that 60% comes from the EU 27. In other words,nearly one third of the food eaten by 65m people in the UK comes from EU farms and factories. These well established, just in time, supply chains are vital for providing choice and value to UK consumers, as well as protecting the livelihoods of tens of thousands of farmers and food producers in the EU. To bring in a third of the food that the country eats requires a vast, complex and interconnected supply chain. To give a sense of the scale, according to the latest UK government figures, in 2016 3.6 million containers from the EU passed through UK ports, just under 10,000 per day. This equates to over 50,000 tonnes per day of food passing through our ports. These goods can currently enter the UK with minimal delay, which allows for truly frictionless trade. This means that salad leaves, for example, can be loaded onto lorries in Spain on a Monday, delivered to stores in the UK on a Thursday, and still have 5 days’ shelf life.But this supply chain is fragile. Failure to reach a deal -the cliff edge scenario-will mean new border controls and multiple ‘non-tariff barriers’, through regulatory checks, that will create delays, waste and failed deliveries. The consequences of this will be dramatic for UK consumers.It is likely that we will see food rotting at ports, reducing the choice and quality of what is available to consumers.
Potential food shortages is what they mean.
‘Bon appetit’, as Michel Barnier might say.