The Government is keeping its no-deal Brexit planning assumptions top secret to avoid panic buying of food, a leading academic has said.
Writing in The Lancet, Professor Tim Lang from the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London, warned the UK is ‘reverting to default positions of centralisation and planning secrecy which are reminiscent of what William Beveridge, after World War One, called top-down food control’.
“What is needed is engaged food democracy,” he added.
“To be fair, the UK Government’s rationale for food secrecy is panic buying, to which just-in-time delivery systems are vulnerable.
“Food industries agree; they know border and transport blockages will happen.”
Prof Lang went on to demand Ministers publish their planning assumptions for expected food disruption, which are slowly being leaked to the press, to ensure the public is properly informed about the impact a no-deal Brexit could have.
His call came in the wake of an announcement that £138m would be spent by the Government on a ‘Prepare for Brexit’ campaign to ‘reassure the nation’.
Ministers are already reported to be preparing for the flow of trucks through ports to drop by a third or more within a day of Brexit, with disruption to last for three months; food price rises of at least 10 per cent and food imports from the EU and other countries with EU trade deals to be slashed by half.
Prof Lang suggested these planning assumptions would mean massive disruption to the flow of fresh fruit and vegetables from the EU, which are vital for health, and pointed out people on low incomes would be hardest hit by any supply problems.
He said: “The Government and many analysts know what is not being shared with the public.
“Any public information campaign must not pull the wool over people’s eyes, but treat them as adults. The danger of panic buying will grow if the £138m is naive propaganda.”