Retailers Warn Of Price Rises And Food Shortages In No Deal Scenario

It must be remembered that the 2016 EU referendum had no legal force to bind the government to a particular (or any) course of action since it was an “advisory” vote. Whilst the poll had one of the highest ever levels of turnout, the margin of the decision was tight; essentially 52% to 48% of those who voted backed the leave option, but of the potential electorate, the leave vote was choice of just 37%.

The May government has shifted its position from “no deal is better than a bad deal” to “if you want to avoid a no deal outcome, vote for the deal we brokered”. This deal was rejected by a margin of 320 votes, the biggest defeat of a bill in British political history.

A “no deal” Brexit would see the re-imposition of tariffs on exports and imports, require inspections at borders (ports and airports) for some goods at the very least (live animal transport and phytosanitary inspections are mandated) leading to huge queues at and near ports and crippling “just-in-time” supply chains.

The latest group to warn of the real danger of a “no deal” Brexit outcome are a group of leading supermarkets which sent a letter, backed by the British Retail Consortium, to all MPs. It points out that the UK imports a third of all its food from the EU and that such an outcome could lead to shortages and would push up prices:

“We are extremely concerned that our customers will be among the first to experience the realities of a no-deal Brexit. We anticipate significant risks to maintaining the choice, quality and durability of food that our customers have come to expect in our stores, and there will be inevitable pressure on food prices from higher transport costs, currency devaluation and tariffs.”

The letter is just the latest warning from British industry warning of the very real danger of a no deal outcome. It comes as MPs are due to vote on amendments to the statement on “Plan B”, made by the PM on Monday of last week, nominally outlining her plans in the wake of the historic defeat of the withdrawal bill.

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