The U.K. government will apply tariffs to food imports to protect British farmers in the event that it leaves the European Union on March 29 without a deal in place, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.
He also warned that delays were likely in the French port of Calais because of mandatory EU checks on food imports on the French side of the channel sea, The Guardian reported.
The tariff regime Britain would like to apply in the event of no deal will be revealed in the “next few days”.
He told the National Farmers’ Union’s annual conference in Birmingham that reports that Britain would operate a zero tariff regime in order to secure frictionless trade in a no-deal scenario were “not accurate”.
“One thing I can reassure you it will not be the case that we will have zero rate tariffs on products, there will be protections for sensitive sections of agriculture and food production,” Gove said.
He later hinted that the tariffs would apply to beef and “particularly” lamb, citing livestock farmers as the most vulnerable in a no-deal scenario. He refused to reassure farmers who pressed him about protection for cereal farmers, suggesting zero tariffs were a possibility in some areas.
Gove also warned that British farmers could be locked out of the EU from 30 March in the event of no deal and that checks at Calais on food exports would “fur up” the arteries of trade, contrary to claims by the French port that there would not be delays.
“We can expect, at least in the short term, that those delays in Calais will impede the loading of ferries, constricting supply routes back into Britain and furring up the arteries of commerce on which we all rely,” said Gove.