WSTA urges Government to "get a grip" to prevent Brexit chaos

The Government needs to “get a grip” and produce a clear plan to prevent Brexit chaos, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

Miles Beale, ceo of the WSTA, said the drinks industry has “deep seated” concerns about the Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit and he called on them to liaise with EU counterparts immediately after the summer.

He said: “The wine and spirit industry has had enough of political posturing and cabinet rifts which have led to a flurry of mixed messages over what we should expect from the Government approach to Brexit. Put bluntly we want Government to get a grip and put to rest some of the deep seated concerns facing our trade – by telling us clearly what they are going to ask for when negotiations get serious in the Autumn.

“The WSTA has argued continually for a negotiated deal including a transition period that would allow the UK to agree a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. Then the Government needs to make quick progress on other bilateral FTAs with our major trading partners. Such a transition would give businesses time to prepare fully for a post-EU trading environment.

“We have been encouraged by some recent comments run by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, but just when you think there is a plan another minister comes in and contradicts it. It is simply not good enough for businesses needing to plan for their future and that of their employees. It has been over a year since the referendum and over four months since article 50 was triggered. We have had nothing solid from Government since the White Paper and no coherent message about our trading future. Our industry needs to feel confident that there is an agreed, carefully though through plan for trade before we leave the EU. Without it businesses are just bystanders – increasingly frustrated ones at that.

“We want to see the Government getting a grip, forming a plan, communicating clearly and taking it to the EU to get a deal that works from everyone.”

Last month Beale and others from the food and drink sector relayed their concerns to the new Secretary of State for Defra, Michael Gove, at a roundtable event.