Drinks boss slams government for lack of clear Brexit plan

03 August 2017 by
Drinks boss slams government for lack of clear Brexit plan

The chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has called on the government to "get a grip" of its chaotic approach to Brexit negotiations.

Miles Beale said that the drinks trade will suffer unless ministers set aside their differences and produce a clear plan for Brexit.

Representing an industry worth around £50b to the UK which supports over half a million jobs, the trade association believes a transitional period will allow the UK to agree a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU.

Beale said: "The wine and spirit industry has had enough of political posturing and Cabinet rifts which have led to a flurry of mixed messages over what we should expect from the government approach to Brexit.

Beale said that a FTA with the EU should be swiftly followed by other bilateral FTAs with major trading partners.

"We have been encouraged by some recent comments made by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, but just when you think there is a plan in place another minster comes in and contradicts it.

"It is simply not good enough for business needing to plan for their future and that of their employees. It has been over a year since the referendum and over four months since Article 50 was triggered."

Last month Beale and other representative from the food and drink sector relayed their concerns to the new Secretary of State for Defra, Michael Gove.

The UK is a key hub for the global drinks market, with over 99% of wine consumed in the country coming from overseas. In 2016 total sales amounted to more than £10b. Meanwhile, the UK is the largest exporter of spirits in the world, selling over one billion litres of spirits to foreign markets.

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