Call to seize Brexit freedoms now to lower prices and avoid ‘sleepwalking’ into crisis. Source: EXPRESS. Daily Briefing

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Call to seize Brexit freedoms now to lower prices and avoid ‘sleepwalking’ into crisis

Brexit has been blamed for rising food costs, but experts are calling on the Government to take advantage of freedoms gained from Britain’s EU exit to bring prices down.

By Jon King

14:51, Wed, Dec 7, 2022 | UPDATED: 16:36, Wed, Dec 7, 2022

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The Government should take more advantage of Brexit freedoms to bring down spiralling food prices, an expert has said. The call comes as the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) said the UK is “sleepwalking” into a food supply crisis.

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NFU president Minette Batters said Britain’s exit from the European Union was partly to blame for a mounting food supply crisis in Britain.

Ms Batters told The Independent Brexit was partly to blame for the food sector’s difficulties with labour shortages and red tape hitting British exporters trying to sell inside the EU.

She said: “It has added cost. We are exporting less into the EU than we were. Leaving the EU was always going to add cost.”

The NFU chief also said the Covid pandemic, high energy costs and the war in Ukraine had added a lot of cost inflation.

Food crisis

The Government has been urged to take more advantage of Brexit freedoms to bring down food prices (Image: Getty)

Food crisis

Cooking oil on shelves in a Tesco store in Ashford, Surrey (Image: PA)

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Julian Jessop, Economics Fellow at free market think tank Institute of Economic Affairs, told “The increase in trade frictions after Brexit has made life more difficult for the food sector, especially smaller firms and those reliant on migrant workers. Nonetheless, there is little evidence of a significant impact either on overall activity or inflation.

“Food prices have actually risen by less in the UK than in the rest of Europe since the vote to leave the EU, and the latest annual rates of food price inflation are very similar. Global factors are overwhelmingly to blame for higher food prices.

“Many millions of EU citizens still have the right to live and work here in the UK and extra visas are available for seasonal workers. The fallout from the pandemic has had a far bigger impact on labour supply.

“The Government could still do more to lower food prices by using Brexit freedoms to reduce barriers to trade with the rest of the world. Ironically, this is being made harder by opposition from lobby groups – such as the NFU – which put the interests of producers above those of consumers.”

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