President Minette Batters said: “It is appalling that with just two weeks to go there is currently no agreement or clear way ahead which will avoid a catastrophic, disorderly exit from the EU. British farmers, just like wider British businesses, have been placed in an awful position of uncertainty by our own Government and Parliament.
“This is having real world business consequences right now as well as causing unnecessary stress and huge anxiety on British farmers who simply don’t know what trading conditions they will be operating under in a fortnight’s time.”
Batters reiterated warnings that a no-deal Brexit would be economically disastrous for the UK and that it shouldn’t be something any politician should contemplate.
“We call for Parliament to unite around a single clear option and if this isn’t possible then Government must request an extension to the Article 50 negotiations that provides sufficient time to allow MPs and Government to establish a single way forward,” she added.
Speculation from media has suggested that the defeat of the withdrawal agreement was a push by MPs to hurry through a no-deal Brexit. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said such a push, as a means out of the current impasse faced by parliament, would be hugely irresponsible.
FDF chief executive Ian Wright said: “After today’s [March 29] vote, Parliament must lead us out of our current shambles. It is time to press the reset button and seek a long extension to our EU exit. Business – particularly food and drink – requires a stable operating environment and a clear path forward.
“For UK food and drink a disorderly EU exit in under a fortnight would mean some empty shelves, much restricted choice and higher prices.”
The industry awaits the outcome of the next series of indicative voting in Parliament today (1 April), with momentum also apparently gathering for a softer Brexit, embracing a customs union with the EU.