Following Theresa May’s Brexit plan speech a short while ago, FDF has issued the following statement:
FDF Director General Ian Wright CBE said:
“We welcome the fact that the Prime Minister has provided some much needed additional clarity on her Government’s approach to plans for the UK’s EU exit.
“The food and drink industry is worth £108 billion to the UK economy. Two thirds of food and drink exports go the EU. So we welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to securing the freest and simplest possible trade arrangements with the EU. We are also encouraged that the PM hopes to adopt a phased approach to Brexit which offers businesses time to prepare and plan as opposed to a potentially fatal jump from the cliff edge.
“In addition to its huge economic contribution the food and drink industry is at the heart of our national security and our national infrastructure. It must be a top priority in any consideration of sectoral deals with the EU.
“We understand the Prime Minister’s wish to control immigration and attract the brightest and best global talent. Our industry also needs access to workers with a range of skills – some not widely available in the UK – so we welcome the assurances for current EU workers and look forward to understanding better how her proposals will impact on future access to skilled and semi-skilled workers from the EU.
“On Ireland, there is a complete co-dependency in food and drink production between the UK and Republic of Ireland. We urge the Government to find a practical solution which avoids the introduction of any kind of ‘hard’ land border which would damage both economies.
“Finally, we continue to urge the government to ensure that any proposed changes to food and drink regulation as between the UK and EU – and across the devolved administrations of the UK – are identified well in advance and are subject to detailed consultation with industry to maintain consumer confidence in the UK’s world-leading food industry.”