U.K. minister tells shoppers not to stockpile food as EU trade deal prospects worsen
U.K. shoppers worried about the government failing to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union should not stockpile food, business secretary Alok Sharma said on Monday.
Britain and the EU agreed on Sunday to “go the extra mile” in the coming days to try to reach an elusive trade agreement despite missing their latest deadline to avert a turbulent exit at the end of the month.
Sharma said he was confident food supplies would be maintained even if Britain leaves the bloc without a trade deal.
“I’m very confident that actually the supply chains will still be in place,” he told Sky News.
“I would say to everyone - do your normal shopping as you would do and I think we’ll find we’re going to be absolutely fine,” he said.
Britons stocked up on long-life goods in March as the country entered a Covid-19 national lockdown, stripping some shelves bare and forcing many people to queue for hours or drive further than normal to find goods such as toilet roll, tinned tomatoes and rice.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned of higher prices without a trade deal. Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket group, has said consumers should expect price increases of between 3% and 5%.
However, Sharma said the impact would be less.
“I think we are talking less than 2% in terms of a potential impact, obviously there will be certain products where it may be a little bit more,” he told BBC television.