The UK’s largest union has accused the government of suppressing a report on the impact of Brexit on food prices.
DEFRA recently rejected a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from Unite to release the findings of the report, claiming that to do so “could seriously mislead the public”.
Unite has appealed the decision to withhold the information arguing that the public interest test of publishing the report outweighs the desire for what the government described as a “safe space” to develop policy while the UK is formulating its negotiating position with the EU.
In its original request the union asked what assessment or estimate had been made of the increase in food prices in the run up to the UK leaving the EU and the first five years after the UK’s departure.
The request was made in light of concerns that there will be a sharp increase in prices and possible food shortages when the UK leaves the EU. Unite also claimed an increase in food costs is likely to have an effect on the inflation rate which will further impact on living standards and the overall health of the economy.
The National Farmers Union has previously warned that as the UK only produces 60% of its own food and if imports became unavailable the UK would run out of food by 6 August each year.
“If the government knows that Brexit is going to affect food prices, then they need to tell the general public and not pretend that there isn’t a problem,” said Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture, Julia Long.
“The type of Brexit that the UK chooses will clearly have major implications on the nation’s shopping basket and we need to know what those factors will be.”