Food industry chief ‘terrified’ of no-deal Brexit leading to tariffs

A leading figure from the food and drink industry has said he is “absolutely terrified” about the impact of a no-deal Brexit if it leads to the imposition of tariffs on trade with the EU.

Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said a no-deal Brexit would cause “enormous amounts of disruption and enormous amounts of difficulty” for its members.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The real problem here is that the disruption that we would have from no deal would very quickly lead to empty shelves, it would lead to more expensive products, and it would lead to a real diminution of choice – particularly for people in poorer areas and at the end of distribution chains.”

Mr Wright said most of the federation’s members would be “horrified” by the imposition of tariffs on EU trade, adding: “I’m absolutely terrified of the prospects for our economy and our food and drink industry by the prospect of tariffs.

“It will cause enormous amounts of disruption and enormous amounts of difficulty.”

Brexit-supporting Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin highlighted that leaving the EU will allow the UK to lift existing tariffs on trade with countries outside the bloc.

“We’ll have far less tariffs on New Zealand wine, on rice, on oranges, on bananas,” he told the broadcaster.

“If we leave the EU without a deal the number of tariffs will be vastly reduced.”