‘Deeper uncertainty’ for spirits after Brexit deal rejected

13th March, 2019 by Nicola Carruthers

The rejection of UK prime minister Theresa May’s “flawed” Brexit deal throws the wine and spirits industries into “deeper uncertainty”, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned.


The WSTA said it is “imperative” that MPs vote to avoid no-deal

May’s deal was defeated in the House of Commons again yesterday (12 March) by 149 votes.

MPs will return to the Commons this evening to vote on another Brexit motion, this time deciding whether Britain should leave the European Union without a deal. If MPs vote for no-deal, the UK will leave on 29 March without a deal, automatically reverting to World Trade Organisation trade rules.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA said: “The rejection of the prime minister’s flawed Brexit deal throws wine and spirit businesses into yet deeper uncertainty; and for longer.

“With the Brexit deadline only a fortnight away it is imperative that MPs vote this evening – and then legislate – to avoid ‘no deal’. Whatever happens next it’s clear that an extension to article 50 is required, which the UK government and the EU should agree as soon as possible.”

Ahead of the vote, the UK government announced this morning (13 March) that tariffs will be temporarily abandoned or slashed on almost all imports after a no-deal Brexit and there will be no checks at the Irish border. This would apply if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March.

The UK government said it recognises that businesses in Northern Ireland “will have concerns about the impact that this approach would have on their competitiveness” and will “remain determined to secure a deal and an orderly exit from the EU”.

Beale added: “We welcome the decision that there would be a temporary suspension of tariffs on wine and most spirits under ‘no deal’, which the WSTA called for earlier this year.”

However he said that “far more” needs to be done to “ensure a free flow of trade” for wine and spirits firms.

Beale said: “Action is urgently needed to resolve questions related to customs arrangements, border controls and migrant workers in order for businesses to keep trading.”

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