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Despite, or maybe because of, the utter shambles in Westminster and intransigence in Brussels, our Prime Minister is adamant about keeping the ‘no-deal’ fallback firmly on the table.
And the possible ramifications of such a stance did not escape speakers at last week’s Dairy-Tech who were fearful of the consequences of a cliff-edge calamity both for the industry and its economic wellbeing.
AHDB chair Sir Peter Kendall described the prospect of a no-deal Brexit as ‘incredibly real’ and warned that ‘in the longer run, if we develop a food policy that is based on zero tariffs, it says to the world you can dump whatever you like on our market, and that will impact on our food markets’.
He continued: “The deal in the next few months is going to be very important and I hope to goodness the Government understands how important farming is, because once you have lost an industry or supplier, you don’t get them back in a hurry.”
Lost an industry! Well, the painting of such a dire scenario can only make you gulp at the potential enormity of it all when viewed as a possible outcome in the cold light of day.
However, he was not alone among our leading lights, and Kite’s John Allen was just as concerned over prospects and went so far as to link the catastrophic Muller 1.25ppl bombshell to the current miasma.
Mr Allen said: “With a hard Brexit, the proposition that UK agriculture could survive in a world without tariffs shows a degree of optimism that is dangerous.”
He thought that even the very prospect of leaving, let alone the actuality of terms, was costing UK producers long-term export contracts.
“That will dislocate the market and we will probably see lower [milk] prices in the UK than the rest of Europe because of that.”
Which may have been bad enough, but he wasn’t done yet.
“I would have thought that the Muller [drop] was one of the symptoms of that starting to happen, and don’t think that is the end.”
Pretty strong stuff, eh?