The Conservatives last week appointed David Rutley MP to Defra to oversee the protection of food supplies through the Brexit process.
Emma Harper MSP for South Scotland said the UK Government’s decision to appoint a Minister for Food Supplies was so ‘deeply concerning’ that the country’s exit date from the EU should be delayed until assurances could be made that food will not need to be rationed in the event of a ‘no-deal’.
It came as the Conservatives last week appointed David Rutley MP to Defra to oversee the protection of food supplies through the Brexit process.
The last time a Ministerial post like this was created was during World War II when ration books were issued.
Mr Rutley has food industry experience and previously held executive posts with Asda and PepsiCo.
His appointment comes as concern grows over the need for companies to stockpile food and medicine in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, and following a report published last month by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply which claimed one in 10 firms in the UK would face going bankrupt if there were delays at the UK border.
Ms Harper quoted Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who in August said there was a ‘60/40’ chance of a ‘no-deal’ scenario.
She said: “The Conservatives’ handling of Brexit has proved so utterly incompetent and catastrophic that they have now had to appoint a Minister of Food Supplies.
“It is deeply concerning.”
Ian Wright, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief executive, made similar comments following Brexit Minister Dominic Raab’s speech at today’s (October 1) Conservative Party Conference.
Mr Wright said: “It is all very well for Dominic Raab to decry scaremongering on a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, but just two months ago he was the one raising the possibility of stockpiling food and calling in the squaddies to help.
“The ‘lurid predictions’ he mentions are from his own colleagues in the Department for Exiting the EU.
“Their technical notices lay bare just how severe blockages at the ports would be for food coming in and out of our country.
“Indeed, the Government takes this so seriously that just last week it appointed a food supplies Minister. The last person to occupy such a position oversaw the end of rationing in 1954.
“We face grisly consequences if we do not secure a deal with the EU – it is not scaremongering, it is scary.
“The Government must act quickly if it is to protect the interest of shoppers and consumers, who have come to expect year-round availability of high-quality food and drink at all price points.”