Hung parliament

Next government ‘must support food and drink firms’

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

The UK public voted for a hung parliament last night
The UK public voted for a hung parliament last night

Related tags: Drink manufacturing sector, Drink federation director, Northern ireland, United kingdom, Uk

Politicians have been urged to protect Britain’s £110bn food and farming sector, after Theresa May’s snap general election backfired and resulted in a hung parliament.

Appealing for unity, Food and Drink Federation director general Ian Wright said: “Politicians across all the parties must come together to deliver in the national interest so the UK’s £110bn food and farming industry can continue to thrive.

“The Brexit clock is ticking loudly and the country will not forgive a failure to act.”

Protecting Britain’s biggest manufacturing sector – food and farming – should remain top priority, said the National Farmers Union (NFU) president Meurig Raymond. It came after May’s election gamble to win a big majority failed, last night.

Raymond said: “The UK food and drink manufacturing sector worth is £109bn, 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 food.”

The new government must back British farming through a number of other measures, including a commitment to continue the 25-year TB Eradication strategy, Raymond said.

Revised Brexit tactics

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, claimed Brexit negotiation tactics needed to be revised after the election result.

“The Brexit negotiating strategy requires a careful rethink. Industry should be at the table, alongside whatever administration is formed, to help ensure we have the right negotiating position, which is something that’s been sadly lacking until now.

Seven unanswered questions

  • Who will be the next prime minister?
  • Will Brexit talks be delayed?
  • Could the UK remain in the Single Market?
  • What will the effect be on sterling?
  • How will the result affect investment?
  • Could the European Free Trade Association be revised?
  • Will EU migrant workers be persuaded to stay or leave the EU?

“Business has become used to political uncertainty in recent years, and industry’s ability to stay calm and help keep the British economy moving in the right direction will be critical in the unpredictable days ahead. While politicians work out a solution to the leadership of the country, they must put industry first and ensure business receives as much support and backing as possible.”

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said politicians must organise themselves and form a functioning government, to reassure markets and to protect the economy.

“Politicians must act responsibly, putting the interests of the country first and showing the world that the UK remains a safe destination for business,”​ said CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn. “It’s time to put the economy back to the top of the agenda.

“For the next government, the need and opportunity to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions has never been more important. This can only be achieved if the next government doesn’t put the brakes on business, remains open to the world and sets out a pro-enterprise vision.”

‘Open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy’

Brexit talks in Brussels should be delayed, said the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). It was vital that the next government gave immediate reassurance over the economy, so the UK was seen to remain open for business, it added.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “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.

​[Brexit] 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.”

Theresa May and the Conservative Party lost a net 12 seats in the general election, and failed to gain an overall majority. The party could form a government, if it agreed a coalition with Northern Ireland party the Democratic Unionist Party.

Labour leaders have said they are ready to form a minority government, but what would that mean for food and farming? See the box below to find out.

What would a Labour minority government mean for the food and drink industry?

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told media outlets this morning that Labour is ready to form a minority government. Labour would “shape a policy programme based on our manifesto”, ​he said. So, how would that programme impact Britain’s biggest manufacturing sector: food and drink manufacturing? Here are the key manifesto pledges:

Labour

  • More flexibility around Apprenticeship Levy
  • Create and exports incentive scheme
  • Increase corporation tax to 20%
  • No rise in National Insurance contributions for self-employed
  • Frictionless soft-border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland

Conservatives

  • Cut net immigration to below 100,000
  • Increase levies for firms employing non-EU migrant workers
  • Maintain corporation tax at 17%
  • Smooth Brexit transition
  • Invest in innovation and research
  • Frictionless border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland
  • Increase exports
  • Hard Brexit

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1 comment

Small food enterprises

Posted by Bob Salmon,

The next government must recognise the parts played by the 600,000 or so very small food businesses. this is especially relevant as the EU considers revising the definition of what a SME is. Around 95% of food businesses in UK are SMEs. They provide a great service to the community as well as employing many people. They must not be taxed out of profit or over charges by officials.
Bob Salmon: Food Solutions

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