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BoJo’s Brexit is a step backwards, warns food trade

MPs will vote on the revised Brexit deal tomorrow in what is a rare Saturday sitting of the Westminster parliament.
MPs will vote on the revised Brexit deal tomorrow in what is a rare Saturday sitting of the Westminster parliament.

The Food and Drink Federation today claimed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal was a backwards step in terms of securing frictionless trade with the EU and would also lead to unwanted regulatory divergence.

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The FDF’s announcement comes ahead of so-called Super Saturday, when MPs will take part in what is predicted to be a knife-edge vote on whether to approve the deal that Johnson’s team thrashed out with EU negotiators earlier this week.

FDF chief executive Ian Wright stated: “It is critical that the threat of a disastrous no-deal Brexit on 31 October be lifted. But, as they cast their vote tomorrow, MPs must also consider what this deal means in the longer term for food and drink, the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, and the supply chain’s four million employees.

Ian Wright: Johnson deal is poorer than May's.
Ian Wright: Johnson deal is poorer than May's.

Regulatory divergence

“In our view, when compared with the deal secured by Theresa May, this deal represents a backward step in terms of securing frictionless trade with the EU.  It also sets us on course for regulatory divergence from our largest overseas market on critical food safety, science and quality issues – areas where we are world-leading.

“Both of these will increase costs for businesses and consumers alike and undermine the success of the UK’s food and drink industry – an industry already burdened by extensive, diverting and costly planning for a no-deal exit.”

Even if MPs vote for the Prime Minister’s deal tomorrow, he may still have to ask the EU for an extension.

Amendments

Former Conservative MP Oliver Letwin has tabled an amendment that would ensure the deadline is extended until the Brexit deal had passed each step in Parliament to become law.

The Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford has also tabled an amendment, calling for a three-month extension to Brexit to allow for an early general election.

He claims the deal gives Northern Ireland a “competitive advantage” becuase when it comes to the regulation of goods, Northern Ireland would keep to the rules of the EU’s single market, rather than UK rules.

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