Brexit impasse could see British market left defenceless against a flood of cheap imports - report

Stock image
Stock image
Food and freight industry groups have warned of difficulties in getting fresh food on the shelves in the event of a hard Brexit. Stock Image
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Concerns have been raised the UK Government may struggle to pass legislation to protect the British market against a flood of cheap imports in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that incoming ministers in Boris Johnson’s administration are being told that unless they can pass specific new laws through a hostile House of Commons, the UK will have no legal basis on which to levy protective tariffs in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Farm organisations in the UK have warned that failure to pass the necessary legislation would leave UK farmers “defenceless” against waves of cheap global food ­imports.

The UK Government is preparing to table a series of “statutory instruments” to enable tariffs to be levied.

However, it is not clear if MPs will be prepared to back the measures and potentially facilitate a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this year as part of its no-deal Brexit contingency planning the UK outlined that tariffs would apply to 13pc of goods going to the UK, including key products from Ireland's agri-food sector - beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy products.

For Ireland's most vulnerable sector, beef, the UK proposals suggest tariffs ranging from approximately €1,500/t on manufacturing beef (mince) up to over €2,500/t on steak exports.

This would represent an approximate 45pc increase in the price of Irish mince and a 20-25pc increase in the price of Irish steaks for consumers in the UK.

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The proposed tariff of €221/t on cheddar will see Irish cheese having to shoulder an annual tariff in the region of €200m. The €22m proposed tariff on Irish butter could also increase significantly, as a range of other costs inflate this figure.

Online Editors

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