Dismore questions Mayor on food security post Brexit

At today’s London Assembly Mayor’s Question Time, Andrew Dismore AM, Labour London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, questioned Mayor Sadiq Khan on food security post Brexit, also raising the Metropolitan Police’s planning for potential post Brexit disorder due to shortages.

Mr Dismore asked the Mayor:

‘Have you spoken to the supermarket industry in London about Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab’s suggestion that the stockpiling of food in a no-deal scenario would be their responsibility?

‘The Food and Drink Federation have said: “If there were to be no deal there would be many, many months of disruption”.  Imports from the EU provide 31 per cent of the country’s food. More than 50,000 tonnes of food passes through British ports from the EU every single day. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) say that

stockpiling of food is not a practical response to a no-deal on Brexit. Retailers do not have the facilities to house stockpiled goods, and in the case of fresh produce it is simply not possible to do so. Our food supply chains are extremely fragile.” 

and according to the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF)

“If there were big border hold-ups, after three days there would be gaps on the shelves in fairly short order,”

‘Of the 385 refrigerated warehouses’ capacity around the country, more than 90% is in constant use and margins are extremely tight.

‘What contingency planning for resilience of food stocks do you think is needed?

‘At the Police and Crime Committee last week we heard from the Commissioner that the Met. are planning for potential public disorder due to crashing out of the EU, including possible riots over food shortages. Isn’t this a very serious situation when we have the Met planning for public disorder because of the risk of a shortage of food, something we haven’t faced since the world wars’ unrestricted submarine warfare?’

The Mayor said that the Deputy Mayor and the Resilience Forum were told about the stockpiling of food and medicine, and the risks of unrest. It is ridiculous to talk of stockpiling, as all the reports are saying. The Deputy Mayor is looking at the needs of London. Border checks and road blocks could impact on fresh produce; and farmers are not planting crops as they don’t have enough workers to harvest them. It is right to plan for disorder, for example huge lorry parks near Dover. The Government must realise the consequence of “no deal”.