Government called on to pause non-Brexit consultations

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Food and drink trade bodies have called on Michael Gove to pause non-Brexit consultations
Food and drink trade bodies have called on Michael Gove to pause non-Brexit consultations
All of the major UK food and drink industry trade bodies have written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) asking to put any non-Brexit consultations on hold.

The letter, signed by trade bodies including the Food and Drink Federation, British Meat Processors Association and the British Frozen Food Federation, called on Secretary of State Michael Gove to ‘pause’ to any current or planned consultations that impact the food and drink industry but don’t relate to Brexit.

It states: “In fewer than 50 days, the UK will leave the European Union. The legal default is that we will do so irrespective of whether or not we have signed a withdrawal agreement and, at present, that no-deal Brexit looks ever more the likeliest outcome.

“Businesses throughout the UK food chain – and their trade associations - are now totally focused on working to mitigate the catastrophic impact of a no-deal Brexit. Large amounts of time, money, people and effort are being diverted to that end.

“At this moment of potential crisis for our industry, it cannot be ‘business as usual’ within government. Neither we nor our members have the physical resources nor organisational bandwidth to engage with and properly respond to non-Brexit related policy consultations or initiatives at this time. Government has recruited many extra staff; we cannot.”

The letter goes on to say that if the Government does press on with any of these consultations, it will be seen as a “sign of bad faith”​ and that many bodies may not offer responses.

The letter listed out the currently running consultations it feels could be placed on hold, these include the Consultation on Protecting and Enhancing England’s Trees and Woodlands; Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive and Improving our management of water in the environment.

The expected consultations that the collective believe should be delayed include sustainable use of pesticides, urea fertiliser use, chemicals strategy and 25-year environment targets.

A Defra spokesperson said the Secretary of State will respond formally to this letter in due course but added: 

“Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority, and we are meeting weekly with representatives from our food and drink industry to help prepare for all scenarios. While we have intensified our no deal planning, we are continuing to tackle other priority issues that matter to people, including our plans to reduce plastic waste and deliver a Green Brexit.”

Who has signed up?

Ian Wright CBE

Chief Executive

Food and Drink Federation

Paul Rooke

Head of Policy

Agricultural Industries Confederation

Andrew Pollard


Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers

Pete Robertson


Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers

David Camp

Chief Executive

Association of Labour Providers

Chris Stemman


British Coffee Association

Walter Anzer

Director General

British Food Importers and Distributors Association

John Hyman

Chief Executive

British Frozen Food Federation

Jack Ward

Chief Executive

British Growers Association

Nick Allen

Chief Executive Officer

British Meat Processors Association

Richard Griffiths

Chief Executive

British Poultry Association

Declan O’Brien

Director General

British Specialist Nutrition Association

Nick Bennett


Council for Responsible Nutrition UK

Judith Bryans

Chief Executive

Dairy UK

Gordon Polson


Federation of Bakers

James Bielby Chief Executive

Federation of Wholesale Distributors

Nigel Jenny

Chief Executive

Fresh Produce Consortium

David Thomson

Chief Executive Officer

Food and Drink Federation Scotland

Andy Richardson


Food and Drink Wales Industry Board

Graham Keen

Executive Director

Health Food Manufacturers’ Association

Liz Murphy

Chief Executive Officer

International Meat Trade Association

Bob Price

Director and Policy Advisor

National Association of Cider Manufacturers

Terry Jones

Director General

National Farmers’ Union

Michael Bell

Executive Director

Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association

Dick Searle                           

Chief Executive   

Packaging Federation

Andrew Curtis

Director General

Potato Processors’ Association

Andrew Kuyk CBE

Director General

Provision Trade Federation

James Withers

Chief Executive

Scotland Food and Drink

Simon Cripps

Executive Chairman

Seasoning and Spice Association

James Smith


UK Flavour Association


Kate Nicholls

Chief Executive Officer

UK Hospitality

Dr. Sharon Hall

Chief Executive

UK Tea & Infusions Association


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