UK industry body Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has warned the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson that a no-deal Brexit could cause ‘mortal damage’ to the food and drink industry.

Johnson was elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party yesterday (23 July) after defeating opponent Jeremy Hunt in a vote of party members.

The FDF has warned that a no-deal Brexit would cause the country to see food prices rise, shortages and disruption to consumers.

Johnson is a supporter of Brexit and has said the UK will leave the European Union on 31 October with or without a trade deal with.

FDF chief executive Ian Wright CBE said: “The UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, is central to our critical national infrastructure. The industry employs more than 450,000 people across the nation. UK food and drink is globally renowned for its quality, provenance and taste.

“The industry’s recently published ‘Plan for Success’ demonstrates how we can make the UK’s £4bn food chain the most dynamic, sustainable and competitive in the world. It shows how working in partnership with Government we can boost exports, develop talent and encourage innovation.

“A no-deal Brexit would destroy that opportunity and much more. It will inflict serious and in some cases mortal damage on UK food and drink. Prices will rise, there will be significant shortages of some products, and disruption for shoppers and consumers will be far-reaching.

“We urge the new Prime Minister and Government to work with us to deliver a withdrawal agreement that guarantees the closest possible trade and regulatory relationship with our nearest neighbours so UK food and drink can flourish.”

The president of the UK National Farmers’ Union has also stated that an ‘orderly’ departure from the EU is crucial for British food production.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “To achieve the best outcome from Brexit, we need to leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way. A deal with the EU is crucial to maintaining free trade with our closest neighbours and largest trading partners, as well as access to people that want to come to the UK to work on farms.”