Speaking at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference, he was cautiously optimistic for the future of food production in the UK, but was critical of the uncertainty faced by the industry – as well as the British public – at the end of March.
“Frankly, I don’t know if, in 12 weeks’ time, UK shoppers are going to walk into Tesco and find a hiatus or a normal day,” said Black. “That’s unacceptable.”
‘Sick and tired’
Commenting on the lack of agreement among politicians on a Brexit deal, he added: “I think that British business is sick and tired of what is happening in the House of Commons at the moment and that’s no way to run an advanced nation. We’re a national and international embarrassment.”
Thanks to the confusion surrounding the future of the UK post-Brexit, big businesses and fund managers have been pulling out of the country, claimed Black.
“There are billions and billions of pounds that have left the city of London by both British and international fund managers, because there is a lack of trust in the stability of the UK.”
Commenting on the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, Black voiced concerns over a physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if a deal was not agreed. Such a border would be disastrous for both the UK and the EU, he warned.
However, he remained optimistic about the continued success of the industry, citing its advances in science, its wealth of talent coming out of some of the best universities in the world, and the mark of pride that British food carries around the world.
Meanwhile, secretary of state Michael Gove repeated calls for the UK food industry to support the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, warning of the adverse effects of a cliff-edge Brexit on small producers.