WSTA launches campaign against no deal Brexit

As Brexit negotiations hit a crucial milestone this week, the WSTA has launched a ‘#NoToNoDeal’ campaign telling Westminster “don’t bottle it” and leave Britain with a no deal Brexit, calling such a scenario “unacceptable” for its members.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA

The WSTA has been very clear on its position that a no deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the drinks industry, and is today urging Westminster “don’t bottle it”.

A no deal Brexit essentially means that there would be no formal agreement between the UK and the EU on ongoing relations in terms of trade, and a transition period, which Prime Minster Theresa May has proposed, would be off the table.

Since the Referendum, the WSTA has campaigned for a deal that delivers “frictionless trade in goods, sufficient labour supply and a transition period that lasts until at least 2020”, to help support businesses adapt to the rapid change in trade relations.

Before the end of that transition period, a free trade deal would need to be in place to allow business to continue trading with minimal difficulty. That preferred scenario will be put in jeopardy in the event of a no deal Brexit. 

Currently, 55% of wine consumed in the UK is imported from the EU, whilst 45% of spirits exported from the UK is destined for the EU.

May will will meet EU officials later today as the two sides scramble to finalise a Brexit deal in time for Sunday’s summit of European leaders, when it is hoped a final agreement will be reached. 

As far as the WSTA is concerned, the UK Parliament’s deliberations on the government’s proposed deal must deliver a transition period, or the UK must go back to the negotiating table, with a no deal considered the absolute worst case scenario.

“The UK wine and spirit industry is a world leading £50bn industry which does half of its trade with the EU,” said chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale.

“With the launch of our ‘Don’t Bottle It’ campaign, our message to Parliament is that ‘no deal’ is totally unacceptable. It would fail to deliver what we have asked for consistently since the Referendum and there is now simply not enough time to prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit without causing serious damage to UK businesses. As we have said since the Referendum, the clock is ticking, and it has now all but run down.

“Despite the businesses we represent putting in place contingency measures as best they can, a ‘no deal’ Brexit presents a multitude of difficulties which are outside of their control. Leaving the EU without a deal would result in chaos and inflict painful damage on these businesses.

“We are calling on Parliament to ensure the UK does not leave the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019 – #NoToNoDeal.”

As part of the campaign, the WSTA is urging wine and spirit businesses to write to their MP, telling them that a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario is unacceptable and that were the UK to leave the EU without a deal, their business would suffer as a result.

The WSTA has also launched www.dontbottleit.co.uk, which details why passing a deal with the EU is so crucial to the prospects of the UK’s wine and spirit industry.

3 Responses to “WSTA launches campaign against no deal Brexit”

  1. Richard says:

    I am slightly confused. If 50% of the UK wine and spirit industry’s trade is with the EU, then that means 50% is not.
    If I look at the WSTA’s 2017 Market Overview, their figures (from 2016) show that imports from USA, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand are all growing whereas imports from France, Italy, Spain and Germany are all dropping.
    Clearly then, being outside of the EU has no impact on the success of trade – in fact according to this report, the two biggest still wine importers into the UK are the USA and Australia.
    If we leave with no deal, then we will have to treat the EU countries as we currently do those outside. I accept that this will lead to some turmoil in the short term as importing companies have to re-arrange their logistics procedures. But if we are already importing so much successfully from outside of the UK, there does not seem to be any mid to long term impediment to doing exactly the same with the EU countries.

  2. Charles Crawfurd says:

    I don’t think anyone can criticise this campaign but it is a great shame the WSTA was not equally assertive before the referendum! Had they been so maybe this current campaign would never have been necessary.

  3. PETER says:

    Mike Beale is overstepping his remit here. The WTSA should not be used as a political platform to peddle his opinions. There are many members of the wine trade who will not support his views and the WSTA should be representing the wine trade as a whole given the circumstances that the electorate separately and democratically has voted for.

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