Worried bosses fear EU nationals working in Britain’s food and drink industry are already leaving the UK over Brexit
From: The Sun
Some of the 115,000 EU nationals working in the food industry have started to leave the UK over Brexit – worried business bosses claim.
And they warn the UK could even be hit by a food shortage unless Theresa May acts to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living there.
The Food and Drink Federation said it was vital the PM caved into ‘rebel’ peers and gave Europeans in the UK peace of mind before Brexit talks began.
The FDF represents huge suppliers from Marmite maker Unilever and Premier Foods – home to Mr. Kipling. It argues that a third of the workforce in food processing plants, ready meals factories and abattoirs are from the EU.
FDF chief Ian Wright told the Sun: “The Government needs to provide us with assurances about the future. These employees are vital to keeping the UK fed, and if you can’t feed a country you haven’t got a country.”
He said the EU workers in the food industry felt “unwanted and uncomfortable”.
The warning comes a week after the House of Lords amended the Brexit Bill to demand Downing Street guarantee the rights of EU citizens rather than use them as a “bargaining chip” in EU divorce talks.
No. 10 insists they want a deal – but need to know the rights of British ex-pats living in Europe will also remain unchanged.
Official figures last month revealed net migration had dropped to the lowest level for two years – partly because of a marked rise in east Europeans leaving the country.
Recruitment agencies last month warned UK employers were finding it increasingly hard to fill jobs in shops, factories and hospitals – blaming falls in the number of EU migrants seeking work here.
One year ago, Lord Rose, the former head of the Stronger In pro-EU campaign, warned that Brexit would trigger shortages in the labour market.
But he said this would lead to higher wages for UK employees. The Tory peer told MPs: “If you are short of labour the price will, frankly, go up.”
Speaking of yesterday Mr. Wright said: “We face a skills gap in our industry and require access to these employees in order to remain competitive.”