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Food industry: Brexit 'shaping up to be stuff of nightmares'

By Greg Heffer, political reporter
The government is facing a demand to discuss the "major concerns" of the food industry over the UK's exit from the EU, amid a warning Brexit is "shaping up to be the stuff of nightmares".
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, called for a meeting with ministers about the impact of Britain leaving the EU without an exit deal.His intervention came as Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt cautioned there is a "real risk of a messy divorce" with Brussels.Prime Minister Theresa May recently urged the public not to be "worried" about claims the government plans to stockpile food and medicines in the event of a "no deal" Brexit.But, Mr Wright insisted it is "essential" the government spells out the ramifications of such a scenario.
Food industry: Brexit 'shaping up to be stuff of nightmares'

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Jeremy Hunt and Austria's foreign minister Karin Kneissl met in Vienna
He told the i newspaper: "Brexit is shaping up to be the stuff of nightmares and it's essential the government begins to explain a) to businesses and b) the public exactly what the implications of a no deal Brexit are."We have not yet had a formal conversation with the government about the major concerns for my members and the wider food chain."I think that's pretty essential."I'm sure the government has gained an understanding of the way supply chains work but it's not possible really for it to understand them as well as the people who actually operate them."A Whitehall source told Sky News the government is in regular contact with industry about the progress of Brexit negotiations and Mrs May's ambition for a future partnership with the EU.Later this summer, the government will publish 70 "technical notices" containing advice for businesses and households on how to prepare for a no deal Brexit.However, Downing Street has dismissed reports the army is on standby to help deliver food, medicines and fuels if there are shortages after March next year.
Food industry: Brexit 'shaping up to be stuff of nightmares'

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How parts of the UK are preparing for Brexit
Responding to Mr Wright's comments, a government spokesperson said: "We will consider any meeting requests received and respond in the usual way."The UK has an excellent level of food security, built on access to a range of sources, including strong domestic production and imports from third countries. This will continue to be the case as we leave the EU."While we are making sensible preparations for all eventualities as we leave the EU, there are no plans to stockpile food.
"Whether we negotiate a deal or not, this will not be necessary."The government has well established ways of working with the food industry to prevent disruption - and we will be using these to support preparations for leaving the EU."Consumers will continue to have access to a range of different products."Former Tory minister and Brexit-supporting MP John Redwood rejected fears about the UK's exit from the EU.He said: "Project Fear is now looking silly. We can import all we like after Brexit, as we will control our ports to ensure smooth passage for goods."Mr Hunt visited his Austrian counterpart on Wednesday as part of a continuing charm offensive by ministers in an attempt to convince EU politicians to back the prime minister's Brexit proposals.Speaking alongside Austria's foreign minister Karin Kneissl in Vienna, the foreign secretary said: "Austria has a special role because of its EU presidency and so all we say is, looking at your huge experience of foreign policy and historical knowledge, let's not make this one of those moments where a terrible mistake is made which we are still talking about in 20 or 30 years."Let's have a pragmatic solution that allows that deep and special partnership, friendship, between the UK and Europe to continue."
A pleasure to meet with PM Abe @AbeShinzo to discuss our potential future trading relationship including how the ?? and ?? can build on the existing EU EPA and our joint commitment to free trade #FreeTradeUK pic.twitter.com/Js64QeVsaq— Dr Liam Fox MP (@LiamFox) August 1, 2018
Mr Hunt later added in a Twitter post: "We want the EU to prosper but there is a real risk of a messy divorce which would be a geostrategic mistake."The foreign secretary met his French counterpart in Paris on Tuesday, while Mrs May is meeting French President Emmanuel Macron near Toulon on Friday.Other cabinet ministers are also believed to be planning summer trips to meet their European counterparts.Meanwhile, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has met Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo after his country said it would "spare no efforts to support the UK" in its bid to join an 11-country trade agreement once outside the EU.
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