To show that the ill-informed abuse directed at the CEO of Airbus was not some kind of minor Brexiteer aberration, yesterday afternoon brought a warning from the British Retail Consortium warning that a no-deal departure from the EU could mean empty shelves in supermarkets and higher prices. This was widely reported. What was not so widely reported was the act of denial from one top Brexiteer that followed.
Tom Boadle of Sky News told “NEW: Bosses of Sainsbury’s, ASDA, M&S, Co-op, Waitrose, KFC, Pret, Lidl, McDonald’s, Costcutter and the British Retail Consortium write to MPs warning about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit for choice, quality and cost of food”. He also pointed out that the great KFC chicken shortage happened after two traffic accidents happened outside the supplier’s depot in the West Midlands.
Simon Jack of the BBC concurred: “A no-deal Brexit threatens the UK’s food security and will see higher prices and empty shelves in the supermarket according to a letter from the British Retail Consortium and signed by biggest food retailers inc M&S, Sainsbury, Co-Op, Lidl, Morrison”. Every big supermarket chain bar Tesco and Aldi, it seems.
And Jess Brammar of the HuffPost noted that KFC was among the signatories: “Major supermarkets and cafes warn no-deal brexit could lead to empty shelves - Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Marks & Spencer’s, Co-op, Waitrose and Morrison’s are among the signatories of the letter, as well as Pret, KFC, McDonald’s and Starbucks”. But one person wasn’t convinced.
To no surprise at all, that person was the perma-smiling Richard Tice of Leave Means Leave, who pretended it wouldn’t happen. “Usual Remoan negativity by BRC; note vast majority supermarkets not signed. Many solutions: eat more domestic food, buy from outside EU, unilaterally cut tariffs, do WTO Article 24 arrangement with EU. No deal always better than bad deal”. Yeah, right.
The vast majority of supermarkets did sign. Eating more domestic food would be useful if there was enough to go round. Unilaterally cutting tariffs might sound attractive until it puts UK farmers and producers out of business. And his Article 24 claim was untrue.
Edwin Hayward pointed all of that out, and more, including the lack of airfreight capacity, adding “WTO Article 24 - you mean GATT - doesn't work the way you think it does (ask an expert next time). But hey, 0 for 5 is more accurate than many Brexiters. Well done”.
Ciara McMillan showed why Tice’s Article 24 claim was bogus: “It would require: - Full EU agreement; - A near complete FTA; - A detailed schedule for completion and implementation of that FTA; - Consent of all WTO Members. Not happening”. Quite.
And Ian Dunt put it bluntly: “What exactly is the no-deal Brexiters' response? That the chief execs of Asda, M&S and McDonald's are in a conspiracy against the referendum? That they are inventing lies about storage space and just-in-time production to undermine the will of the people?”. Tice is supposed to be a businessman. He might be expected to know what effect a no-deal Brexit would have on supply chains.
Richard Tice is beyond delusional. No-one should be surprised.
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