- The general election has resulted in an unexpected hung parliament. The food and retail industry reacts
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Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers’ Union NFU said, “The NFU is committed to start working with whoever forms the new government to ensure all areas of Whitehall understand and value the importance of British food and farming. The NFU has a good relationship with all parties and, as ever, will work with whoever is in power to promote the interests of British farming.
“British farming underpins the country’s largest manufacturing sector and with farming arguably the sector most impacted by Brexit, NFU members need clarity and certainty as soon as possible over who will govern the country and how they plan to support profitable, productive and progressive agriculture and horticulture in the future. The NFU will be seeking early meetings with Ministers. It is important for our industry to have clarity and see certainty from a functioning administration as soon as possible.
“British farms currently grow the raw ingredients for the UK food and drink manufacturing sector worth £109 billion and for every £1 invested, farming delivers seven-fold back to this country. Moreover, it is clear the British public value and want to continue to buy British food¹.”
“If the formal Brexit negotiations begin as planned on June 19 we will continue to push for the right post-Brexit trade deal, regulatory framework, a domestic agricultural policy suited to Britain and access to a competent, reliable workforce.
“We are also calling on the new government to support British farming through a number of other measures, including a commitment to continue with the 25-year TB Eradication strategy, ensuring regulation is based on robust scientific evidence, and tackling the increasing problems of rural crime. The Government should be proud to promote British food at home and abroad and champion British food and farming through its public procurement policy.”
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for political stability and a delay to the beginning of Brexit talks in the wake of the general election outcome.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB said, “In the coming hours and days, business needs immediate reassurance from the government that emerges about how it will protect the economy from any political turmoil. The UK must be seen to remain open for business, with a government committed to supporting enterprise.
“It is important to go into the Brexit talks from a position of strength, focused on getting the best deal possible for trade and access to workers and skills. Negotiations should be led by a government and a Prime Minister that will be in place for the duration, and so we call for a delay to the scheduled start of negotiations rather than a rush to begin in 11 days’ time. The need for a transition period now becomes even stronger, providing the time to get Brexit right.
“In the days ahead, FSB members will want to see ministers appointed and a clear timetable for the coming weeks. We are ready to work with the government and all parties on what measures to bring forward.
“FSB secured a number of important commitments for small business in many of the party manifestos in this election, and we believe there will be strong support in the new Parliament for many of our asks - on business rates reform, on protecting the self-employed from unfair tax rises, and on tackling late payments by big companies to their small business suppliers.
“FSB has consistently engaged with major parties right across the political spectrum and will work positively and constructively with the government that emerges, and MPs and Peers across all parties.”
Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said, “The nation has delivered its verdict and the country demands leadership at this uncertain time. Politicians across all the parties must come together to deliver in the national interest so the UK’s £110 billion food and farming industry can continue to thrive. The Brexit clock is ticking loudly and the country will not forgive a failure to act.”
James McKeown, owner of AJA Portfolio Brands Ltd said, “To enable us to weather the inevitable Brexit storm ahead, last night’s election just added one more ingredient to our current recipe for instability. Constant variation of exchange rates and steadily declining consumer spending power doesn’t bode well for new mass market brands entering the UK market from abroad. Let’s see what happens next to test our resilience.”
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