Michael Gove has agreed to hit the brakes on his reform agenda after 30 food industry trade bodies said preparations for a no-deal Brexit would leave them too busy to cooperate.
A strongly worded letter was sent to the environment minister last week, with signatories including Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality and Ian Wright CBE of the Food and Drink Federation. It told the minister that the industry is unable to deal with the workload of government business while also planning for the "catastrophic impact" of a no-deal Brexit.
In response Gove has agreed to extend or delay several consultations, including those relating to waste strategy and enviras part of Brexit planning.
Other policies highlighted by the group are being led by other departments, but it is understood that requests will be forwarded on.
The move comes as the 29 March deadline for the UK's membership of the EU draws closer. While going ahead without a deal is not formally government policy, it will be the legal default if an agreement is not brokered between Brussels and Westminster in the next month and a half.
The risks include damage to the supply chain which, according to government emergency planning, could create food shortages, surging prices and delays to goods crossing the border. The letter to Mr Gove, seen by The Caterer, noted that "at present, a no-deal Brexit looks ever more the likeliest outcome".Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).