With the Conservative Party winning its largest majority (by 80 seats) in the House of Commons since the 1987 election under Margaret Thatcher and the Labour Party having their worst return of seats in any general election since 1925 the comments from various food organisations was generally positive.
Andrew Kuyk CBE, director general of the PTF told Food Management Today: “In the wake of Boris Johnson’s landslide victory, this is clearly a time to look forward, not back. Our clear focus now has to be on securing the best possible future relationship with our former EU partners and on negotiating our own independent trade deals elsewhere. But in so doing, we need to take account of the unprecedented mix of challenges facing the whole of our food system, here and around the world. Sticking to a business as usual model is not going to deliver the step change in sustainability and resilience we will need in the decade to come. The opportunity is there for us to develop a comprehensive new strategy which looks at all aspects of production and consumption in order to deliver better outcomes for all – and for the ecosystems on which we all depend. Transition buys us a limited breathing space to prepare. Success will depend on a shared vision – with Government and across the value chain – and on having the resources, skills and investment to make change happen. We are ready to start.”
“Sticking to a business as usual model is not going to deliver the step change in sustainability and resilience we will need in the decade to come”
FDF’s chief operating officer, Tim Rycroft, thoughts were: “We congratulate the Prime Minister and his Government on the result of the General Election 2019. For too long, business has been mired in a sea of political uncertainty, hitting investment, productivity and long-term growth.
“As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink is part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure and essential to national security. The nation’s £31.1 billion industry employs over 450,000 people with a footprint in every community.
“UK food and drink is a national success story. As set out in our manifesto, we want to work in partnership with the Government to reach our full potential as the most dynamic, sustainable, resilient and competitive industry, by boosting exports, developing talent and encouraging innovation.
“Food and drink from Great Britain and Northern Ireland is prized for its quality and provenance. Through a new national Food Strategy and a dedicated future trade policy for food and drink, we can ensure our industry flourishes and brings good jobs and growth to every corner of the UK.”
NFU president Minette Batters said: “The NFU will start working with the new government and parliament straight away to ensure all areas of Westminster and Whitehall understand and value the importance of British food and farming.
“In our own election manifesto, we raised a number of crucial issues we need the new government to address now, to ensure British food production has a sustainable and ambitious future.
“Top of that list is Brexit. It’s imperative we secure a future trade deal with the EU that is as free and frictionless as possible, avoiding the damaging spectre of trading with our largest partner on WTO terms. Alongside this, our future trade policy mustn’t allow imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal to produce here.
“The UK could embark on its first trade negotiations for decades in just 50 days’ time – the government must set up a Trade and Standards Commission as a matter of urgency so that they can work with industry and stakeholders to ensure those negotiations do not allow the high standards which are the hallmark of UK farming to be undermined by imported food which would fail to meet our own domestic regulations and values surrounding animal welfare, environmental standards and traceability.”
“Through a new national Food Strategy and a dedicated future trade policy for food and drink, we can ensure our industry flourishes and brings good jobs and growth to every corner of the UK.”
John Perry, managing director of Scala, a supply chain and logistics consultancy urged caution: “Despite the fact we are now nine months past the original Brexit deadline, UK businesses are still facing a huge amount of uncertainty.
“While we do know that the clear Conservative victory on Friday will set the wheels of Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement in motion, many of the details still remain undecided.
“Of particular concern are the potential implications of Johnson’s Northern Ireland protocol.
“Border controls and customs processes for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are yet to be defined, and there are worries that the proposed arrangements as currently constructed will cause considerable friction.
“As a result, doubts have also been raised over the feasibility of implementing the protocol Johnson’s self-imposed December 2020 deadline
“So, where does this leave businesses trading between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and potentially moving goods onwards to the Irish Republic?
“If the Conservatives are elected, the precise details of Johnson’s agreement will hopefully become clear over the coming months. In the meantime, there are a few steps these businesses can take to ready themselves, whatever the outcome on Friday.
“The first is to take this opportunity to review their Incoterms with customers and suppliers. Incoterms define who is responsible for transaction costs and duties, so will have a direct impact on a business’s cost and risk exposure post-Brexit.
“Secondly, businesses that have not yet done so should register for HMRC’s Transitional Simplified Procedures. This will enable them to import goods into the UK without make a full customs declaration in advance, and also postpone paying duties and VAT.
“Thirdly, it’s essential that businesses ensure they are aware of the relevant temporary product and tariff codes and customs processes that may come into force.”
Ian Stevenson, Livestock Meat Commission, Northern Ireland chief executive said: “The Northern Ireland beef and sheep meat industry has been totally united in its opposition to a damaging no deal Brexit so some relief has come from the election result that a withdrawal agreement (however imperfect) is likely to be progressed through Parliament in the coming weeks. However, a huge job of work remains to be done to ensure that the future UK – EU relationship is one which delivers free and frictionless trade for our agri food industry.
“The European Union is our most important trading partner and the pursuit of new trade deals with third countries must not be at the expense of our own domestic production base and a greater reliance on imports for our food security. We have world class food systems in the UK and the new Government in Westminster must support the industry through the many challenges and opportunities to come during the lifetime of this Parliament.”
The Conservative Party won its largest majority, by 80 seats, in the House of Commons since the 1987 election under Margaret Thatcher and the Labour Party had its worst return of seats in any general election since 1925.
The Conservatives won 346 seats, Labour 203 seats, Scottish National Party 48, Liberal Democrats 11 seats, DUP 8 seats, Plaid Cymru 4 seats, Sinn Fein 7, SDLP 2, Green Party 1, Alliance 1.