NEWS / Brexit

Sustain’s concerns about food supplies raised at Prime Minister’s Question Time

Today in parliament, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn clashed about food supplies after Brexit. At Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQs), Jeremy Corbyn accused the PM of refusing to provide figures to poverty groups about food supply.

Over the summer, Sustain has been working with food aid groups to lobby the government about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food prices and the risks to food supplies for vulnerable people. We have also been briefing MPs and their advisors. A parliamentary question submitted by Sharon Hodgson MP on 23 July on food supplies is available here; it remains unanswered as of today (4 September). A further question about food supplies to vulnerable people in the event of a crisis submitted by Caroline Lucas MP is available here: it also remains unanswered as of today.

Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of the Sustain alliance, said:

“We are absolutely dismayed at the government’s lack of attention to the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food for the most vulnerable people in  our society – old people, those living with long-term illness or disabilities, people living in care and children in low-income families.

"Other European countries are declaring no-deal Brexit a ‘natural disaster’ to trigger contingency funds. In the UK, Secretary of State for welfare Amber Rudd, has twice made fleeting reference to a ‘hardship fund’ being considered by Cabinet to help vulnerable people cope with food price rises or donations to food banks drying up. Yet here we are, just seven weeks from a possible no-deal Brexit cliff-edge, and no detail has been published, with no funds allocated. This inaction is absolutely shameful.”

Sustain wrote an open letter to Amber Rudd (Secretary of State for DWP) and Michael Gove (who oversees government planning for the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement), co-signed by numerous organisations who help vulnerable people to access good food, and has been asking people to contact their MP to guarantee food for people in need in the event of a no-deal Brexit. You can still do that by clicking here.

At PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn raised comments made by Michael Gove on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday 1 September in which Gove had said, in response to a question about possible food price rises, that “some prices may go up; other prices will come down.” In response, the PM denied that Michael Gove had said this. In the same programme, Michael Gove also said there would be “no shortages of fresh food” in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This has been disputed as "categorically untrue" by the British Retail Consortium, the association the represents the UK’s supermarkets.

Earlier in the summer, Sustain published a briefing on the impact of no-deal Brexit on food supplies and our call for a Hardship Fund to protect the vulnerable.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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