UK food industry bodies including UKHospitality have threatened to suspend co-operation with a swathe of government consultations until the “catastrophic impact of a no-deal Brexit” is resolved, Sky News reports.
A letter to Defra secretary Michael Gove from the heads of more than 30 trade associations argues their focus on mitigating the potential consequences of a hard Brexit means they have insufficient resources to address other policy issues.
The letter, also signed by the Food and Drink Federation and National Farmers’ Union, urges the government to halt the publication of proposals such as those relating additional curbs on the advertising of sugary foods until the Brexit uncertainty is over.
The plea to Mr Gove highlights food industry chiefs’ anger about the continued lack of clarity over the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU.
The food industry executives said the focus on Brexit meant that “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 32 trade association signatories demand Mr Gove and his colleagues suspend “current and planned consultations that will impact food and drink… until this uncertainty is over”.
“If government seeks to press ahead with these consultations it will be seen by some as a sign of bad faith and many organisations may decline to respond,” it warned.