A new report from the Labour Party’s pro-Brexit group, Labour Leave, has said leaving the EU would make the poorest households in Britain £36 a week better off because cheap food imports could flood into the UK.
Written in conjunction with a group of free trade supporting economists, the study repeatedly refers to the protectionist nature of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), claiming it bumps up prices for shoppers.
The authors also blame the CAP for ‘artificially inflated agricultural land values’ which further increase the cost of food.
Their call for unilateral removal of barriers to trade follows similar demands from researchers at Policy Exchange, a think-tank set up by Defra Secretary Michael Gove.
The report reads: “The CAP regime has at its heart high agricultural tariffs, as well as quotas and variable levies which collectively raise the price of food by around 20 per cent and well above this for some foods.
“This system leads to high food prices for UK consumers, increases inflation and reduces disposable income, which otherwise would boost consumer spending and thus the economy.
“Our estimates show the lowest decile household would gain £36 a week from Brexit; the second lowest decile (60 per cent of the median) would gain £44 a week.
“These figures represent around 15 per cent of their weekly spend.”
The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute has predicted prices for farmers would nose-dive if the Government were to unilaterally drop tariffs on imports after Brexit.
Their recent paper on the subject read: “This scenario has a depressing impact on UK prices and output values across all commodities, particularly in the beef and sheep sectors, where international competition is very strong.”
Commenting on the Labour Leave report, NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “British farmers are proud to produce safe and affordable food which feeds the nation.
“The NFU has maintained farmers must not be disadvantaged post-Brexit and it is vital for the industry that any cheaper imports as a result of trade deals do not serve to undercut the high standards British farmers produce to.”