Business leaders from across the farming and food and drink industry in Scotland have called on politicians to avoid a “no deal” Brexit.
In an open joint letter, chief executives from seven bodies representing the sectors suggest such a scenario would cost the industry around £2 billion in lost sales annually.
MPs will vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal on Tuesday in the House of Commons, with the UK expected to depart the European Union on March 29.
The letter states: “Whilst recognising there is no political consensus yet on a future trade relationship with Europe, the potentially catastrophic impact of not reaching any deal is clear.
“We are collectively hugely ambitious for the growth of our industry.
“However, even using the UK Government’s own projections, we estimate the cost of no deal to our industry would be at least £2 billion in lost sales annually. That is on top of the short-term chaos resulting from transport delays and labour shortages.”
James Withers (Scotland Food & Drink), Scott Walker (NFU Scotland), Alan Clarke (Quality Meat Scotland), David Thomson (Food and Drink Federation Scotland), Julie Hesketh-Laird (Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation), Alasdair Smith (Scottish Bakers) and James Graham (Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society) are the chief executives who are signatories to the letter.
The seven industry bosses also indicated that their businesses have already been impacted by the possibility of a no deal.
They state in the document: “Our businesses are already bearing the cost of no deal, having to spend millions of pounds in time and investment to mitigate the potential disruption that will stem from the UK crashing out of the EU.
“We represent the people who farm Scotland’s land and seas, and food and drink businesses that are the nation’s largest onshore manufacturing industry, employing 120,000 people.
“The EU accounts for 70% of Scottish food exports annually and it is also the source of crucial inputs and supplies for our sector.
“By Parliament rejecting a no deal scenario, our industry effort can focus on shaping a future relationship with the EU that we can work with, not preparing for the fallout we can’t. There is no tolerance for no deal as an option. It must be rejected now.”
A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesman said: “Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the Government’s top priority. The best way to avoid no deal is to back the PM’s deal.”