Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with the EU is a “backward step” compared to Theresa May’s deal, when it comes to the prospects for UK food firms.

That’s the warning from the UK food industry’s lead trade association, the Food & Drink Federation.

FDF chief executive, Ian Wright, said on Friday (20 October): “It is critical that the threat of a disastrous no-deal Brexit on 31 October be lifted.  But, as they cast their vote tomorrow, MPs must also consider what this deal means in the longer term for food and drink, the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, and the supply chain’s four million employees.

“In our view, when compared with the deal secured by Theresa May, this deal represents a backward step in terms of securing frictionless trade with the EU.  It also sets us on course for regulatory divergence from our largest overseas market on critical food safety, science and quality issues – areas where we are world-leading.”

“In our view, when compared with the deal secured by Theresa May, this deal represents a backward step in terms of securing frictionless trade with the EU”

On Saturday, the FDF welcomed news that the controversial Letwin Amendment had been passed by 322 votes to 306 in the Commons. Ian Wright again: “The most urgent priority for the food and drink industry has been to prevent a no-deal exit from the EU on 31 October 2019. The Letwin amendment does that job.

“We welcome more time to scrutinise the new Brexit deal and the legislation designed to enact it. We must also make sure the implementation period is adequate to pass the necessary UK legislation and for businesses to fully adapt.”