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UK drinks trade backs remaining in the EU

The UK wine and spirits trade has overwhelmingly come out in support of Britain remaining in the European Union.

Crowds at the London Wine Fair (Photo: LWF)

A survey of its members by the country’s biggest drinks trade body, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, revealed that 90% backed continued EU membership.

Only 2% of the WSTA’s 300 members backed ‘Brexit’, while 8% were undecided.

Concerns about leaving the EU included a more uncertain trading environment, loss of access to the Single Market and the absence of a UK voice at the table to shape EU regulations, the WSTA said.

The trade’s endorsement for Britain remaining in the EU – which db exclusively revealed would happen last month – comes ahead of meeting taking place today between Environment Secretary Liz Truss MP and some of the WSTA’s small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister David Cameron has said that almost 600,000 jobs in the UK alcohol industry will be safer if Britain remains in a “reformed European Union”.

“Britain will be stronger, safer and better off in a reformed Europe than out on our own, because we will have full participation in the free trade area, bringing in jobs, investment, lower prices and financial security. That means real certainty so you can plan the future”, he said.

WSTA members also expressed concerns over losing the benefit of the EU’s free trade agreements with third countries, and potentially lengthy renegotiations with the EU if Britain votes to leave.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “While all views were represented in our membership the vast majority is clear that the industry will better be able to invest, grow and create jobs if the UK remains in the Single Market.

“The industry needs a powerful UK voice within the EU to ensure that we can shape and influence regulations that will impact on the trade and its access to the EU’s 500m consumers.

“It is clear that the UK spirit sector’s strong exports performance and our place at the centre of the international wine industry is hugely positive for the UK and its consumers. There is real concern that this would be put at risk as a result of the UK exiting the EU.”

The WSTA’s backing of the ‘Remain’ campaign, ahead of Britain’s referendum on the issue on 23 June, has not prevented some big names in the drinks industry voicing support for ‘Brexit’.

One of the most prominent backers of the ‘Leave’ campaign, JD Wheterspoon pub boss Tim Martin, described the EU as undemocratic and designed for a “middle-aged male elite”.

He said the euro is doomed to failure, that the EU is a “quasi-religious” project rather than an economic one, and that free trade and immigration policies should be handled by sovereign British government.

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