No-deal Brexit means less food variety – Wales' first minister

Mark Drakeford

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Mark Drakeford has warned Wales’ range of food could decrease in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Wales could see “less variety of food” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the first minister has warned.

Mark Drakeford said there were products on supermarket shelves now which would not be there after a no-deal – something he called a “genuine risk”.

Although the impact would be “devastating” on industries, he said there would not be food shortages.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the UK food industry was “highly resilient”.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme, he said there was “no need to panic” but there were “things that you can buy today and not think twice about it, that won’t be there in a crash-out Brexit”.

Although he did not specify which products would be affected, he added: “That isn’t to say there won’t be food on the shelves and things people wont be able to buy.”

Mr Drakeford said the Republic of Ireland government was under pressure to put checks on goods at the borders if the UK leaves the European Union.

“If the checks lasted 90 seconds, then there would be queues right across the island of Anglesey and onto the mainland,” he said.

He added that the “impact of leaving in those circumstances would be very real,” particularly to food businesses relying on fresh produce.

“We have been working very hard with supermarkets, particularly on supply chains into further parts of Wales and have had guarantees from them from them those areas will not be disadvantaged.”

It follows his meeting with Theresa May in Westminster on Wednesday.

Mr Drakeford said both sides in Parliament were entering into talks with a “genuine attempt to find some common ground”.

A spokesman for Defra said: “We already have a high level of food security in the UK, with half of the food we eat produced on our shores.

“Our food industry is also highly resilient and well versed at preventing disruption – and Defra is meeting weekly with businesses, manufacturers and producers to support their preparations for leaving the EU.

“We do not want a no-deal Brexit and the government is doing everything it can not just to secure a deal with the EU, but to mitigate the impacts of leaving without one.”

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