UK to get ‘minister for food supply’ in case of hard Brexit

#Brexit special section Daily news News

A new minister has been appointed to ensure that UK food supplies are protected in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Conservative MP David Rutley has been given the brief at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

He is a former food industry executive who ran home shopping and e-commerce businesses for Asda and also worked for PepsiCo.

The Government insists he is taking on tasks already done by other ministers, but critics say it is an indication of the chaos that will ensue if Britain leaves the EU with no deal.

His appointment has been welcomed by food industry executives amid warnings that delays of just 30 minutes at UK ports and the Irish border could drive many firms out of business.

The short shelf life of many food products makes them highly vulnerable to any border delays.

Prime Minister Theresa May and her EU counterparts are at an impasse over the terms of the UK’s departure.

This increases the risk of Britain leaving without a deal in just over six months.

Ministers have promised to relax border checks and collection of taxes at frontiers to avoid any delays.

But food retailers say this would still cause big hold-ups on the UK side for lorries heading back to the EU to load up.

Meanwhile, the EU has stepped up its own no-deal preparations after their chief negotiator Michel Barnier gave a gloomy report on negotiations to MEPs.

The EU fears that any deal Mrs May comes up with will fall in Parliament even if it is agreed with them.

Tory rebels have already said they are prepared to vote against the Government and Labour has said it will reject anything she comes back with.

Labour’s shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said at this week’s party conference that it would need a “miracle” for them to support any May deal.

Party Jeremy Corbyn is due to meet Mr Barnier in the next few days to expand on the position he took at the Liverpool conference this week.

He and his front bench have said they want a General Election instead of a straight choice between a Theresa May deal or a hard Brexit.

The EU has insisted that progress must made on the issue of the Irish border for a planned November summit to sign off on any deal to go ahead.

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