Could Brexit Save the British Food and Drink Industry?
A month on after Britain voted for Brexit, the headlines have been filled with scare stories, the news has been nothing but gloom, and politics has become even more of a taboo subject around the dinner table. But the dinner table is, of course, my main area of interest and I wondered whether our own British food industry could be ‘saved’ by Britain leaving the European Union.
If you speak to anyone in a fishing town, they’ll have told you a month ago that the EU’s fishing quotas were ruining they’re livelihoods. The regulations and quotas imposed on fishers were said to be disastrous, and also damaging to the environment. The Common Fisheries policy, in which the EU set quotas for how many fish each of its member states could catch, as well as which fish they were allowed to catch, has been said to have caused an environmental catastrophe. Fishers at sea have been forced to throw dead fish overboard as they don’t comply with EU law for one reason or another. Whilst the head honchos within the EU believe that this helps to preserve different species of fish and that market intervention is a good thing, fishermen, who have been fishing for generations, say that this simply doesn’t work. Also, leaving the EU means that Britain can be part of international fishing bodies on its own, rather than being represented by the EU.
Farmers also voted overwhelmingly in support of Brexit, despite receiving subsidies from the EU. Farmers claimed that the EU was “overly restrictive” on farmers, and that they were too strict on the use of pesticides and GM crops. Whilst people campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU said that this was preserving the British environment, farmers said it was damaging the food industry.
Local foods, such as Bury Black Pudding and Gloucestershire Cider are still protected under international trademarks, despite there being some concern that the lack of the EU’s “Designation of Origin” protection would mean that foods were no longer protected. For instance, a cumberland sausage could be made and sold anywhere, and still be called a “cumberland sausage”, rather than people from within Cumbria being the only producer of the food. Furthermore, being outside the EU makes imported food more expensive, so Spanish chickens and Swedish bacon would be more expensive than British-reared chicken and bacon. It would also make local British produce more competitively priced.
Many people from within the Indian restaurant community have also suggested that a Brexit could save our curry houses. Many restaurant owners have suggested that being in the European union favoured immigrants from within Europe, meaning that Bangladeshi and Indian visa requests were rejected or less likely to be approved. As has been widely reported in the press, some curry houses have been forced to close due to a national shortage of chefs, and this obstacle could be overcome in post-brexit Britain.
So, could Brexit save our British Food Industry? I think it probably can.