Why we should worry about the looming No Deal food crisis

02 09 19

HOPE note hate is joining Unions and charities to warn that crashing out of the EU without a deal poses a grave risk to the entire country’s food supply.

Along with the GMB, the union for food workers and food charity sustain, we’ve written to demand Boris Johnson come clean on the potentially disastrous risks a no deal Brexit will have on UK food supply. Our letter is also being supported by former PM Gordon Brown.

The letter demands answers to nine key questions about Government preparations to cope with food shortages and price rises and the subsequent effects on families, the vulnerable, public services, the voluntary sector and workers in the food industry.

“A no deal Brexit threatens the UK’s food supply chain,” according to Gordon Brown. He added: “Imports of almost a third of our food could be subject to disruption. Uncertainty, restricted supplies and a weakened pound could raise prices. This would be a catastrophe for the food industry but also for family budgets, hospitals and those driven to food banks due to the decimation of our social security system over the last decade.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary is also warning about real problems for people in the event of a No Deal Brexit. “No deal is no joke – it makes no sense for working people. The risks are writ large when it comes to the food we eat.  With all the talk about coups and leave promises written on the side of buses, the real detail often gets missed. It’s time for Boris Johnson to come clean.”

HOPE not hate is hosting a No to No Deal rally in Liverpool today (2 September 2019) as part of our campaign to ensure the UK doesn’t crash out of the EU with a chaos Brexit. The economic fallout would create a fertile breeding ground for the far right. 

As Gordon Brown said, “Let’s stop no deal, stand up for our future and start fixing the problems really impacting people’s lives in this country.”


The full letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister, 

The Government’s strategy of allowing the UK to crash out of the EU without a deal poses a grave risk to the entire country’s food supply – with potentially alarming consequences. There is an evident lack of preparation and commitment from the Government to prevent deterioration in the accessibility, affordability and standards of food which people in the UK currently expect. 

Ministers have refused to be transparent about the risks of no deal and the damage it could do to the basic living standards of working families, the poor and the most vulnerable in our society. 

Rather than relying on leaks and press speculation, we call on the Government to provide answers to the following questions: 

  1. The UK imports almost a third of its food from the EU. Can the Government guarantee EU tariffs, custom inspections and supply chain delays will not make food more expensive?
  2. What risks does crashing out of the EU on October 31st 2019 pose to the UK food supply chain and the wider agricultural industry? Has the Government made preparations to mitigate these risks? 
  3. Fresh, healthy food is crucial to the wellbeing of the young, the elderly and the vulnerable in our hospitals, care homes and schools. Given that local councils have already warned that price rises and food shortages could reduce school meal nutritional standards, will the Government guarantee that food quality in key public services will not fall following a no deal Brexit? 
  4. The UK food and drink industry employs 450,000 people across the entire UK, with nearly 30% coming from the EU. Has any impact assessments on the consequences of a no deal Brexit for these businesses and jobs been conducted, including the proposals to end FOM immediately post-Brexit? If so, why hasn’t the Government shared the results with employers, trade unions and consumers? 
  5. The UK Food packaging and production supply chain relies heavily on the use of chemical ingredients and materials throughout. Given the chemical industry’s concern at the impact of no deal Brexit, can the Government guarantee that the food industry will have access to the necessary materials to ensure production is not impacted? 
  6. What is the Government’s impact assessment of a no deal Brexit on the health and financial consequences across society in the event of increased food costs and a reduced supply of fresh food? 
  7. Has the Government conducted any impact assessment on the threats to UK food security, including potential for weakening of health and safety standards, due to pressures arising from a shortage of skilled labour, particularly amongst health inspectors? 
  8. How have ministers responded to warnings that disruption to food supplies and rising prices will increase poverty whilst simultaneously reducing donations to emergency food banks and frontline charities serving vulnerable people? How will hard-pressed charities, such as homeless shelters and women’s refuges, be supported in meeting increased food costs and coping with restricted supply? 
  9. Does the Government intend to seize control of UK ports to guarantee supply and distribution of food throughout the UK in the weeks following a no deal Brexit? If so, which organisations and people will be prioritised in the weeks following a no deal Brexit? The public and Parliament deserve to hear the full answers to these questions so they can discuss the serious implications for people’s lives. 

Attempts to suspend Parliament deny citizens and their representatives the right to scrutinise how crashing out of the EU with no deal will increase the cost of living, cause hunger for the poorest and destroy many people’s lives.’ 

Yours sincerely, 

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary 

Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive, Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming 

Nick Lowles, Chief Executive, Hope Not Hate 

Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South 

Dan Carden, MP for Liverpool Walton & Shadow International Development Secretary


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