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Brexit minister confirms ‘no plans to deploy army to protect food supplies'

23 August 2018 by
Brexit minister confirms ‘no plans to deploy army to protect food supplies'

The UK has no plans to deploy the army to protect food supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the minister for Exiting the European Union has confirmed.

Dominic Raab, who was chosen to lead the department after the resignation of David Davis, also referred to claims of a "sandwich famine" by saying "you will still be able to enjoy a BLT after Brexit"

In July it was claimed sandwiches could be among the first foods at risk in the event of a no-deal scenario, due to a break down in supply chains.

Reffering to "the suggestion that a no deal Brexit could start a sandwich famine in the UK or that we've asked the army to deliver food supplies", he said: "In reality our food and drink supply is diverse.

"In 2016 DEFRA food statistics found that we supply half of the food that we consume here at home, 30% did come from the EU, 20% from the rest of the world.

"Who is credibly suggesting in a no-deal scenario, that the EU would not want to continue to sell food to UK consumers?

"In any event we've set out practical measures to mitigate any risk of disruption to supply through the recognition of EU food standards, our pursuit of equivalency arrangements on food regulation with the EU and indeed with non-EU countries, and through support for our farmers at home in terms of the financial funding streams.

"So, let me assure you that, contrary to one of the wilder claims, you will still be able to enjoy a BLT after Brexit, and there are no plans to deploy the army to maintain food supplies."

His speech comes ahead of the release of Brexit reports advising a wealth of industries on how to best respond to a no-deal scenario.

Analysis: No deal - What is it, why is it on the table and how could it happen?

The government has gone backwards and forwards on the possibility of a no-deal scenario. Theresa May was initially keen to state that "no deal is better than a bad deal" but has quietened on this stance in recent months as reports of potential serious damage to the economy in the short-term mount. However Minister for International Trade Liam Fox, a hardline Brexit backer, recently put the odds of No Deal at "60-40".

A no-deal scenario would see the UK fall back onto World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules for international deals. It would also leave the UK with no access to the EU's single market, customs union or free movement area - making Britain the same as third party countries like Canada and the USA when it comes to the passing of goods and people. This could have serious ramifications for hospitality.

However talk of a no-deal exit has largely been seen as a negotiation ploy by political analysts, as the government attempts to broker a bespoke deal with the EU so both sides can limit the risks to their economies. The hope in Westminster is believed to be that, to avoid the damage of a no-deal scenario, the EU will instead blur some of its negotiation ‘red lines' and allow things like special rights for the City of London's finance sector and partial access to the single market for some sectors, including food.

There appear to be three instances where a no-deal scenario is possible. First, in the event that the EU and UK are not able to find terms they can agree on. Secondly where a deal is not agreed by the political mechanisms of all 27 member-states and thirdly - and potentially most likely - is that the final deal is not agreed by the UK parliament when it is put to a vote at the end of the process.

Assurances for EU workers in the event of no-deal Brexit welcomed>>

A no-deal Brexit could result in food stockpiling, increased costs and crashing consumer confidence>>

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