Brexit developments so far…industry reaction
It has been another week of extraordinary politics in the UK over Brexit. With the prospect of a no deal scenario to be outlawed in law the Prime Minster has now suggested he is open to an all-Ireland food standards zone to replace the backstop.
The Prime Minister held his first meeting with the Taoiseach (Irish PM) in Dublin today prior to the suspension of Parliament from tonight until the 14th October, following a vote on holding an early general election.
The opposition parties have indicated they will not back that vote, which would mean an early election is increasingly unlikely.
However, speaking in Dublin Boris Johnson reiterated that he still believes a Brexit deal is possible by the EU summit in October. “There are two tasks we simply have to do – we must restore Stormont and we must come out [of the EU] on 31st October, or else permanent damage will be done in the UK to trust in our democratic system.”
Andrew Kuyk CBE, director general at the PTF told Meat Management: “The latest political events defy description – leaving us open to almost any possible outcome in the weeks ahead. But most concerning of all is the notion that we will somehow be “done” with Brexit at the end of October, with or without a deal. No deal would trigger an immediate round of new negotiations as a third country. And even a deal is likely to leave huge questions as to what our final future relationship with the EU will be. So industry still has no firm basis on which to plan. And the Government’s much vaunted “Get Ready for Brexit” campaign has so far consisted of awareness-raising rather than providing new detail. Customers and suppliers are already looking elsewhere for business. This is hitting profits now, as well as damaging longer term prospects, wherever we end up.”
The BMPA’s CEO, Nick Allen, added: “Whilst another delay to Brexit brings yet more uncertainty, the meat industry will have collectively sighed with relief that a No Deal exit on the 31st October has hopefully been avoided.”
Allen continued: “In a No Deal Scenario, the sheep sector would suffer immeasurable damage and, whilst the government has been offering support and compensation, we are uncertain about how that would be implemented and what impact the support would have.
“The beef sector could potentially be reduced to a complete shambles if the Irish border is left open and we could effectively end up with a free for all.
“The pig sector is also facing some significant challenges. There are still a lot of unknowns about the regulations surrounding exporting processed products and also which countries outside Europe have agreed to take our products.
“In short, time is running out to mitigate the consequences of a No Deal. What we hope now is that politicians recognise that bringing certainty to business is essential for the economy and people’s livelihoods. They were told in March not to waste the six-month extension but, basically, they have done exactly that.”