Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken out today after it emerged that UK food and drink exports to the European Union almost halved year on year in the first three months of 2021. Food and Drink Federation (FDF) figures show that EU sales dropped by 47%, largely due to changes in the UK's trading relationship with the EU. Compared with the first quarter of 2019 exports of cheese were down 72% and fish sales were down 52%.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Today’s shocking figures reinforce what we already knew: that the Conservatives’ ideological hard Brexit is devastating our food and drink exports. These hard statistics tell a sorry tale – not of “teething problems” but of structural and systemic damage to local businesses. Even if some of the damage in recent months is recovered with time we will continue to suffer a competitive disadvantage as long as these barriers are in place.
“A drop of almost half our exports is hard to fathom. It is as though the Tories took every cheese wheel or crab or haddock we sold to Europe last year, split them down the middle and threw one half to the bottom of the sea. Boris Johnson has carved off a chunk of our businesses in pursuit of his own interests and local people are paying the price.
“It is time that the government saw sense and got a comprehensive set of veterinary and sanitary agreements with the EU so we can ease at least some of the harm done by their failures last year. If the figures found in the first quarter are any guide then the need for a fix is only going to become more urgent.”