The UK’s food industry has called on Boris Johnson to ditch parts of competition law, allowing firms to work together in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has warned that leaving on 31 October without a transition in place could cause widespread supply issues, leaving British consumers either going without or paying more for their usual meals.
Companies risk being fined by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) under rules that prohibit suppliers and retailers discussing supply or prices.
The FDF’s chief operating officer Tim Rycroft said: “Competition law is important, but in the event of no-deal disruption, if the government wants the food supply chain to work together to tackle likely shortages – to decide where to prioritise shipments – they will have to provide cast-iron written reassurances that competition law will not be strictly applied to those discussions.
“Without such assurances, any such collaboration would risk incurring large fines from the CMA. We asked for these reassurances at the end of last year and, despite support from Defra, we’re still waiting. Hopefully, now that Michael Gove is in charge of all no-deal planning, we can make progress.”
“We asked for these reassurances at the end of last year,” said Rycroft. “And, despite support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, we’re still waiting.”
A government spokesman said: “The UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October and our top priority is supporting consumers and businesses in their preparations for Brexit.
“We are working closely with the food industry to support preparations as we leave the EU.”