New documents have laid bare the “deeply unsettling” possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit, suggesting there could be chaos at ports, disruption to food supplies and increased business costs.
Government departments released a tranche of 24 technical papers today advising businesses and consumers of the potential impacts of the UK withdrawing from the EU without an agreement.
In the event of a no-deal scenario, documents revealed:
- Producers of dozens of types of British traditional foods may be forced to apply for new protected status from the EU.
- Airlines will have to obtain individual permissions to operate between the UK and the EU.
- Bus and coach services to European Union countries could be suspended.
- People hoping to travel to Europe with their pets may face months of preparation before their trip.
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said the “official confirmation of just how bad this scenario would be is bound to encourage businesses and shoppers to consider - now - stockpiling, buying ahead, hedging currency risk, procuring additional warehousing, relocating production to the EU, and other practical measures to secure supply”.
There are 86 agricultural, food and drink products protected under Europe’s “geographical indication” schemes, from Stilton blue cheese and Cornish clotted cream to Welsh lamb. The Government said it anticipates that all the current UK products will continue to be protected.
Mike Spicer of the British Chambers of Commerce said some businesses will be reassured by IP protection and geographical indications, but “the admission that loss of market access is a possibility for others will be deeply unsettling to those affected”.
“There will be major concerns in industries like aviation and road haulage, that operate routinely across borders at European scale, that their markets will be fragmented by new licensing or regulatory frameworks,” he said.
National Farmers Union President Minette Batters said: “These technical notices confirm in black and white what we already knew - a no deal scenario would be catastrophic for British agriculture. A scenario where farmers face an immediate trade embargo for many of their products would have devastating effects, and would severely threaten livelihoods and businesses.”
In terms of flights, the documents state that the UK “would envisage” allowing EU airlines to continue flying and “we would expect EU countries to reciprocate in turn”.
UK coach operators have also been advised to consider subcontracting “all or part of the coach travel” on the continent to EU-based operators as no deal would mean providers could no longer rely on automatic recognition by the EU of UK-issued community licences.