Environment Secretary’s lack of strategy to defend industry will leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth of workers and shoppers, union warns

gmbGMB, the union for food and drink industry workers, today criticised Environment Secretary Angela Leadsom over a lack of strategy to defend the UK food and drink industry in the wake of Brexit.

The former Conservative leadership contender and leading backer of Brexit, was appearing before MPs at the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee this afternoon to discuss the work of her Department.

Under questioning from Labour committee member Angela C Smith, the Environment Secretary failed to answer whether Brexit could have severe consequences on food prices, or to confirm whether the UK could be forced to use World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules if it failed to reach an agreement with the EU by 2019. Earlier this month the British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned tariffs on food and clothing could rise sharply, with meat increasing by 27 per cent if a good Brexit deal could not be struck by 2019

Eamon O’Hearn, GMB National Officer said:

“Andrea Leadsom has today utterly failed to explain what the Brexit she vocally supported will mean for the UK food industry or for shoppers feeling the pinch.”

“The lack of answers coming from the leading Brexiteer and now Environment Secretary will leave consumers, business and the hundreds of thousands of people working in this industry in limbo with an unpleasant taste in their mouths. Brexit is a huge threat to the viability of the UK food industry and requires a strategy to protect it – and it’s now clear there isn’t one.”

“People need a guarantee that their jobs will be safe, that goods will not become too expensive and that workers’ rights won’t be eroded because of this Government’s Brexit negotiations.”