Cheaper food after Brexit?

The Common Agricultural policy has been bad for UK consumers and bad for producers. Our time in the EU has seen our domestic output meet less and less of our needs, seen imports from the EU surge, and given us dearer food. There are high external tariffs of most food from outside the EU.

I still think it likely commonsense will break out in due course and the farmers and other exporters of the continent will not want to face high tariffs on their voluminous exports to us. Let us, however, suppose there is no deal, and we just leave. What tariffs would result on EU food exports to us?

The current EU external tariff on food stuffs are, according to the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (12 October 2016 publication)

Beef 65-87%
Pork 43-50%
Lamb 45-51% (there are however substantial tariff free quotas for NZ/Australian lamb)
Chicken 27-41%
Cheese 42-68%
Milk and cream 50-74%
Butter 63%
Vegetables 10-15%
Wheat and barley 53%
Jams etc 24%
Processed ham 27%
Processed chicken 88%

As a result of these current penal impositions on most non EU exports to us, the EU does most of the exporting to us. The Dutch account for 75% of our flower imports, and 23% of our vegetables, with Spain another 27%. The Dutch provide 44% of our poultry imports, Ireland 68% of our imported beef and the Danes 26% of our pork.

We now import around half our butter and 60% of our cheese, 35% of our beef, 60% of our pork and 40% of our poultry.

So what would happen if we move to WTO rules and impose these high tariffs on EU foods? It would be wise to cut tariffs on various foodstuffs we could not produce economically at home from non EU countries, which you can always do under the WTO scheme as they are out to stop increases, not declines.

Undoubtedly there would be a surge in domestic production of butter, cheese, beef, flowers, pork and poultry were such barriers to be erected. Moving to world prices for items where we could not produce at home would help reduce price levels. Why, for example, do we have to have a tariff on oranges and other hot country fruits, which we cannot grow for ourselves?

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  1. Ed Mahony
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    It’s possible for Brexit to be a good success. But i simply fail to see how it’s possible without a deal with the EU. The EU has said no deal would be bad for them and the UK but that a bad deal for them could be even more costly for them than no deal. And if our economy sinks and we fail to bring down immigration, i can only see this seriously undermining Brexit. Meanwhile, we have lots of debt to pay off and we have many important non-Brexit issues to deal with. Therefore time + money are going to be serious factors undermining the long-term success of Brexit. And in time, this could lead to votes going to Labour and the Liberals. And if they got back into power, who knows what could happen. Therefore if we want a successful Brexit, we really need a deal with the EU.

    • Dennis Perrin
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Relax. Angst is the fashionable EU Remain argument. Relax!

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        A bit of ‘angst’ is no harm! As long as it is balanced with ‘relaxed’ as well ..

    • Know-dice
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink


      We have to leave now, to stay would have been the “green light” to more EU more centralised control, taxing, army, etc. etc.

      Leaving may not be easy, but I’m convinced that in the long term it is the right thing to do.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        I agree we’ll be fine in the long-term. The problem is the short to medium term.

        Can our boat cross the choppy waters to the smoother waters ahead?

        1. How rough will those choppy waters be? (Do we have any charts to make an estimate?)
        2. How long will those choppy waters last?
        3. How sea-worthy is our boat at the moment?
        4. How easy will it be to get provisions along the way from potential trading partners?
        5. How well trained are our naval officers in general to navigate these particular waters and to negotiate with potential trading partners along the way?
        6. Will those sailors on rations be willing to last it out – or will they mutiny forcing us to return to port, where we might not get such a good deal with the port authorities than before?

        Do we actually have to cross the choppy waters? Could we not find another route? Instead of relying on the more obvious alternatives of either remaining in port or leaving port, why don’t we go for the more creative option of trying to reform things back in port for our benefit and the benefit of all who live there?

        • agricola
          Posted April 6, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

          Well if I had to put to sea with you in the crew you would be the first to be landed back ashore with a bottle of water and some hard tack biscuits.

        • Know-dice
          Posted April 6, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          “Do we actually have to cross the choppy waters?”

          With 27 other pirates [gangsters] ready to sink us with 27 different reasons for doing so.
          I’m afraid that it will be choppy, but with a steady hand on the tiller we WILL be ok 🙂

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted April 7, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            To the Spanish, Sir Francis Drake was a pirate. To Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sir Francis Drake was a hero.

            Frankly, you can never go wrong if you have Jesus Christ steering your boat, especially in tempestuous weather. Regards.

  2. David Price
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Other staples from hot countries that attract tariffs include roasted coffee beans (7.5%), green tea (3.2%), rice (175 euro per 1000Kg).

    The government should take a hard line on this against the EU and on other imposed taxes such as VAT. Even if the EU agree no change of trade terms from now they will still impose NTBs to make things difficult for our exporters and their companies always favour local manufacturers/producers anyway.

    The government must look to our people’s benefit first and agreeing to maintain the status quo simply to keep financial passports, for example, would be a gross failure.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      “Daniel Caspary, trade spokesman for the European People’s Party … expressed doubts that the EU was actually willing to slash all tariffs, particularly when it comes to agriculture.

      “We haven’t offered zero-tariffs on agriculture in any trade deal because there are farmers in Europe that need protection from foreign competition,” he said. “If Britain leaves the EU and contributes no longer to the Common Agriculture Policy [supporting those farmers], I don’t believe in a zero-percent tariff. Otherwise, what kind of signal would that be sending to other trading partners?”

      Irrational: you would think that we are running a trade surplus with the EU on agricultural products and so their farmers will need protection from that foreign competition, when in fact we run a chronic and massive deficit with them.

  3. Edward
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    I am frequently astonished at how low are food prices when one travels outside of the European Union, for 44 long years we’ve suffered the idiocy of the CAP.

    Then, possibly could we have some ‘world prices’ in the energy, car, oil, gas, freight, insurance, banking, house prices et bloomin’ cetera?

    • Hope
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      A lot of fruit and foods are stored for about a year in New York before consumption. Why cannot the govt encourage farmers and fruit growers now for the deadline in two years rather than wait for two years or be delayed thereafter on the never ending process of leaving the EU? If May onto use with her stance I have absolutely no confidence that we will leave by 2019. We will be given excuse after excuse until a second referendum is given. I am also fed up of seeing politicos kissing and befriending Junker when he has put a moritorium on any country leader speaking to the UK! Has this govt lost the plot on intelligence?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      The idiocy of CAP, the energy policy, fishing, employment rules, the EURO and all the other EU insanities. But may wants them all and “to build on them”

      • Hope
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        Utterly daft as you say. Anyone supporting the Climate Change Act has lost leave of their senses. We need cheap energy to be competitive. She is going for EU light.

  4. Mark B
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I am a terrible cynic – quell surprise ! I do not believe any savings will be passed on to the consumer but pocketed by those supplying. In fact, I believe post-BREXIT prices will rise and leaving the EU will be blamed.

    But once competition comes fully into play, over time prices will begin to fall a little.

    The UK needs to come to terms with the regulatory minefield we are entering. Upon exit we will, initially, be in a worse of position. But over time we will come out on top. We always do !


  5. alan jutson
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Interesting info John, but what are the typical WTO tariffs on such products when compared to these external EU tariffs you have listed.

    Reply These tariffs are the current EU schedule at the WTO which we have to levy on imports into the UK. When we set our own s=Schedule, they could be zero if we chose to. The WTO does not stop you lowering tariffs, only putting them up.

    • John
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Cant help but think this Alan Jutson is hard work.

  6. Bert Young
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    I was unaware there was a tariff on oranges etc – and my family eat loads of them !. Fruit – of all sorts is a major part of our diet and each week my wife encourages our fad . Any relief in the cost of food would be quite a boost to our cost of living – as it would be to other families .

    Cutting tariffs on food would be welcomed by all – just the sort of positive gesture a Government could make in response to our leaving .

    • Andy
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      You should pay more attention then ! Last year I think it was the EU slapped a 16% tariff on Oranges to protect Spanish growers.

  7. Peter Wood
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Good Morning,
    I agree and support your desire to focus on the practical issue of trade; however it seems from the EU side it is all about agreeing to accept our ‘punishment fee’ and terms. As you have said on many occasions, there is to be no punishment accepted. Will you kindly keep a close check on your colleagues to ensure that is the case. Your audience needs to hear from you on this so that we can lobby directly if necessary.

  8. Jerry
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Not that I disagree with your summery, just a slightly different emphasis;

    “I still think it likely commonsense will break out in due course and the farmers and other exporters of the continent will not want to face high tariffs on their voluminous exports to us.”

    Always assuming that those EU farmers will not, do not already, have alternate markets of course or that the EU could not use this drop in exports to still further cripple EU farmers by way of environmental rules within their CAP. This would not lead to higher prices here in the UK but shortages, unless we can find alternate supplies for what we can’t produce ourselves, hence all the talk about importing food from countries outside of the EU (and why some eco-warrior europhiles look at the prospects of importing food from the USA with trepidation, not that there is anything wrong with food from the USA). The real question might not be about EU or WTO tariffs but security of supply, which is in its self inflationary, or of course we will just need to return to the old ways of seasonal cooking etc!

    Not sure why you then go on and talk about Butter in the way you did, the UK always has imported huge quantities, notably from NZ.

    You mention “hot country fruits”, indeed, but we can also create our own hot-houses, for example the UK already grows large quantities of Bell Peppers under glass in controlled environments.

    One thing we will need to do, and sooner rather than later, is for schools to teach kids that agriculture, horticulture and their related support industries are just a worthwhile career as any other. Also would the UK government consider reviving those UK Marketing and perhaps more importantly Research boards?

  9. APL
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    John Redwood: “The Dutch account for 75% of our flower imports, and 23% of our vegetables, ”

    It was well known that our joining the EU caused major economic disruption to our commonwealth partners such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where we previously bought a lot of agricultural produce.

    • Turboblocke
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      How odd, because they were in favour of the UK being in the EEC .

      • APL
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Turboblocke: “This page contains the text of the Government produce[sic] pamphlet advocating a vote to stay in the “European Community “”

  10. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Let’s hope for the best and encourage our own farmers and growers but there is a significant risk that there will be a continuation of profiteering which I see at present.

    As soon as a business sees an opportunity to raise prices it will take it. I observe this now. They have an excuse with ‘the fall in the pound’ and Brexit. The brakes are off. Just about everywhere prices are being put up or products are being changed.

  11. Mark Hodgson
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    “We now import around half our butter and 60% of our cheese, 35% of our beef, 60% of our pork and 40% of our poultry.”

    So why have we been subsidising UK farmers heavily for 3 generations? What does that achieve?

    • forthurst
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Actually it’s more expensive to pay farmers for not producing (set aside) than for producing comestibles which can be sold in the marketplace.

    • Andy
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      The EU also employed quotas. I remember some friends who had a dairy farm and were in despair because they had a milk quota and were being fined for exceeding it but had no idea what the quota was because there was a delay in issuing the paper work !! And because of quotas this has destroyed businesses like my friends so now instead of being able to supply our dairy needs we have to import. This is but one example of the EU at work.

      • rose
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        And we have friends who couldn’t make the amount of butter and cheese they had milk for because of the EU quotas. It was excellent butter and cheese too.

  12. Caterpillar
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Thank you for showing how no deal is better than a bad deal, hopefully Mr Benn will appreciate your agriculture example.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Mr Hillary Benn is alas not a patch in his father. He is totally wrong on almost every issue, in the Libdim/ Nick Clegg mode.

      • rose
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Not a patch on his father? His father only jumped on the anti EEC bandwagon to pinch the leadership of the left. Before that he had been all in favour – when he thought he was Harold Wilson’s Crown Prince. Then he realized the PLP didn’t think much of his abilities and he switched sides. It was the PLP that decided then who was leader.

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    We should scrap all these import tariffs. They are hugely damaging to the economy and push up food and other costs for everyone. They render the UK and EU economy less efficient and mean than they EU does things that are more efficiently done outside the EU.

    One of the main benefit of leaving is the scrapping these tariffs. Alas May and Hammond (who seem to be socialists essentially) seem not to realise this.

    We should stop nearly all subsidies for UK farmers too, they damage & distort the market. We should certainly simplify employment laws and not “build on them” as May suggests. These workers right do not help workers, they harm them by destroying jobs and giving them less choice of alternative jobs.

  14. Antisthenes
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    We commit a substantial sum to a foreign aid budget purportedly to aid less well off peoples from poorer countries around the world. Largely it is squandered as it ends up far too often in the wrong hands or it is ineffectual. A far better way to help poorer nations is to allow them easy access to our markets by reducing tariffs on their goods and services. Ideally to zero. The best place to start is agriculture as current tariffs on their produce are punishingly high because the EU misguidedly wish to protect their farmers. Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to indeed give the British consumer cheaper food. Of course if it was extended to other goods and services then on many other things as well.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      It’s astonishing that (if the adverts are to be believed)there are still large numbers of people in the developing world without access to fresh water-this after decades and hundreds of billions spent on aid – and yet projects such as the infamous Ethiopian Spice Girls and Peruvian guinea pig farmers go ahead.

  15. Ken Moore
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Talks on a Uk free trade deal are only going to be concluded once the Uk becomes a ‘third country’. Tandem talks have been ruled out.
    There will be ‘transitional arrangements’ that will effectively retain the status quo…never mind Mrs May gets to repeat her mantra ‘Brexit means brexit’ – the most cynical vacuous statement ever uttered by a politician. May is a centrist, Blairite big spender who faced with the prospect of having to leave the Eu, decided it would be better to talk tough and do nothing of substance.
    She would prefer to be back in the Eu rubbing the rights ‘nose in diversity’ like she did throughout her period at the home office.

    Having ignored and ridiculed the EEA/Efta option, the brexiteers have closed the door on the one option that could have led to a better future.

    We are being sold a lie by Mrs May – she knows her plan cannot possibly work …no deal isn’t a feasible option.

  16. agricola
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I am well pissed off. Your damned Captcha decided to go round in ever constant circles, failing to disappear up it’s own backside. All after I had crafted a well considered contribution to todays diary.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink


      This has happened to me in the past. I just copy and paste and wait a while and then repost.

    • Chris
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I think we will soon reach the point where Captcha warrants a complete article. Does anyone else find some of the images a bit blurred so you have no idea if it is a shop front or what? Can’t blame my glasses.

  17. Chris
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    A hugely depressing article on eureferendum blog today by R North, which would indicate that we are heading for a deal amounting to something similar to what we have got, but spun to an uncritical media and public as something special, with the final move being that the UK if finally brought back into the EU fold after a treaty change, as the complications of trading on our own etc would prove too difficult to manage.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Peter Oborne in the Mail on Saturday was suggesting something something similar.As some of us have long believed the referendum vote was only the first skirmish in this war.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      He’s miffed that nobody is following his advice about the best way for the UK to leave the EU – not the UK government, egged on by those he condemns as “Ultras”, but now not the EU either.

      “The change of pace is written into the European Council draft guidelines. These set the parameters for the eventual Article 50 settlement and, in terms of a deal, make it quite clear that talks on a free trade agreement are only going to be concluded “once the United Kingdom has become a third country”.”

      What puzzles me is that months ago he was predicting that the EU would insist on using up most of the notional two years sorting out withdrawal arrangements, and especially the money, so that our negotiators would be under intense time pressure when the discussions finally got around to trade, even though common sense says that this would not the best way for either side to get the best outcome and the UK government’s proposal for parallel negotiations is far more reasonable.

      Moreover as I have said in lengthy screeds which I do not propose to repeat it is not clear why it would be so much better in practice to negotiate continued membership of the EEA, allegedly as a temporary arrangement, rather than aiming to go straight where we want to end up even if that requires transitional provisions.

    • ian wragg
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      R North is a closet remainer and because his Flexcit document is being ignored he likes to spread doom and gloom about our leaving.
      He would have us go the EEA/EFTA route which would leave things largely as they are without MEP’s or Commissioners.

      • bratwurst
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        ian wragg. Wrong on every count. And EEA/EFTA only as an interim. Suggest you actually read what he says.

      • Peter D Gardner
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 3:30 am | Permalink

        Spot on. His Flexcit is actually Brexit Squared. Once out of the EU, then a repeat for leaving EEA/EFTA. Why would EFTA admit UK, a massive economy compared with its other members, on a temporary basis?. It wouldn’t. Richard North is a typical academic immersed in detail and quite unable to see the big picture.

        • APL
          Posted April 7, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

          Peter D Gardner: “Richard North is a typical academic immersed in detail and quite unable to see the big picture.”

          North has his feet well grounded. He has more ‘real life’ experience that many of our MPs!

          North, I think, sees EFTA as a vehicle to achieve a true free trade area in the whole of Europe.

          Churchill is often wheeled out by the Europhiles as an advocate of European integration. The EU and EFTA are two different visions of that integration.

          It is not the case that EFTA is simply the EU light, EFTA is more of a coordinated block of trading nations, with non-binding adjudication tacked on for purposes of arbitration and dispute resolution.

          The EU is a completely different beast with its goal of Nation building and ‘ever closer union’. An unrealistic goal given a continent with a multitude of cultures and languages – actually the lingua-franca of the EU is still English (American), it will be amusing to watch the EU squabble about that once we’ve left.

          The point is, North sees EFTA + the UK as a vehicle to achieve Churchill’s vision. Potentially superseding the EU.

          As we know much of the EU regulations that are passed into UK law by our useless MPs, originates not in the EU but in the UN, or other affiliated NGOs. That won’t stop because we are out of the EU.

          To illustrate: Some while ago, I advocated the UK should stop borrowing money to give away in foreign aid to formerly poor countries who now seem to be very well off. One of Redwoods other commentators suggested that our foreign aid budges is mandated by a UN regulation.

    • Chris
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      This article in D Express, if true, seems to confirm that May is backsliding on a clean Brexit, and that unrestricted immigration will continue after we leave the EU:
      Mr Redwood, is there any basis for R North’s pessimism, and also these reports about not having control of our borders and allowing unrestricted immigration?

      Reply No. In due course the government will announce a new Immigration policy and make legislative proposals to Parliament on it.

    • Original Richard
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      R. North is a Remainer in Leaver’s clothing.

      So of course he is supporting a route back into the EU via the EEA/EFTA.

  18. John Probert
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I hope your right and common sense prevails some time soon.

  19. acorn
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    “So what would happen if we move to WTO rules and impose these high tariffs on EU foods? It would be wise to cut tariffs on various foodstuffs we could not produce economically at home from non EU countries, which you can always do …” No you can’t.

    “Why ‘most-favoured’? This sounds like a contradiction. It suggests special treatment, but in the WTO it actually means non-discrimination — treating virtually everyone equally. This is what happens.

    Each member treats all the other members equally as “most-favoured” trading partners. If a country improves the benefits that it gives to one trading partner [say, non EU], it has to give the same “best” treatment to all the other WTO members [including the EU], so that they all remain “most-favoured”.

    Reply I am well aware of that. We could for example cut out all tariffs on all tropical products from anywhere in the world as we do not produce any.

    • margaret
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      ‘too’ many etc

      • margaret
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Sorry correction on wrong comment. Pineapples for example are sometimes 69 p in Aldi. I could not envisage ant cheaper. Have we seriously high tariffs there.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      reply – reply

      “Tropical fruits…..”

      Yes we could make tariffs zero, but then look at how much tax revenue the government will lose.

      Sadly I have a nasty feeling tariffs will still apply to many goods so the government can waste ever more money through incompetence and legacy projects.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 3:38 am | Permalink

      I think the rule is that your offer reduced trade barriers to all MFN’s . If one rejects the offer, you are free to apply reciprocal barriers to those it applies to you, and proceed with reducing barriers to other. Not 100% sure but if you do it that way round it means the party rejecting your offer but everyone else accepts it, that is the one discriminating, not you. If I am right, JR should have expressed it as reciprocating the EU’s imposition, not the other way round. But the error is in the way he expressed it, not in his understanding.

      Reply You register more generous terms for some as FTAs

  20. mike fowle
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I have for a long time thought that these tariffs especially as regards developing countries are not just economically daft but actually wicked.

  21. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this very revealing detail, the type of information unspoken by Heseltine, Clegg, Clarke, Blair, Mandelson, Soubry, Major et al.

    South African grapes could be cheaper too.

  22. margaret
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    We have our own cows , lamb and chickens are ten a penny. British farmers would benefit and be able to be competitive. We don’t want however to encourage to many products with processed chicken.

  23. oldtimer
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I hope someone is studying closely what has happened in New Zealand where farm subsidies have been cut significantly. A free trade model for the UK should include food products with consideration of food production self sufficiency, land and landscape management in the mix.

  24. Vanessa
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    If you read today you will read that the “agreement” Mrs May will achieve will actually mean we NEVER leave the European Union. Due to the way the EU works we will need to become an “Associate” member if we are not to fall off a cliff.
    If the “leave” side of the government bothered to read and do some research we would not find ourselves in this mess. To join the EEA/EfTA would have been the most sensible route so as to stay in the Single Market. We could have used this as a temporary measure while we negotiated some of the most onerous agreements while keeping trade running smoothly. Once this had been achieved we could have left the EEA – takes about one year and become a REAL INDEPENDENT COUNTRY TRADING ON THE WORLD MARKET.

    • Original Richard
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink


      Mr. North, who writes is a Remainer in Leaver’s clothing.

      He wants us to join the EEA/EFTA so we are still under the EU’s control and as a route back to the EU.

      Since we import £100bn/year more from the EU than we export to them I see no reason why the EU should not give us a “good deal” and, if not, in order to punish us, I would not be surprised to find we are better off trading with the EU on WTO terms.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      There are none so blind than those who refuse to see.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 3:18 am | Permalink

      The EEA/EFTA thing is totally misguided. It would mean doing Brexit twice. First from EU membership into EEA/EFTA. Then from that to something else. Crazy. How would we have the faintest idea what would be the options after EEA/EFTA 5-10 years hence? And why would EFTA agree to Britain – huge by comparison with the other EFTA members, – agree to Britain joining on a temporary basis?
      No. We decide where we want to end up at the beginning and we negotiate it with the EU along with how long to get there and by what means, but avoiding detail and secondary issues. Then we sign an enforceable agreement, then we do it in organised steps. There is no other way of giving industry and individuals any kind of certainty or of avoiding what you call falling off a cliff.

    • Chris
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      It is not practical politically speaking because of
      I) having the turmoil of 2 separate major stages (North does not indicate that this first stage will be quick)
      2) the huge and real danger that a later administration could quickly take us back into the EU from North’s interim stage, as it would not be too onerous to do.

      Difficult though it is, we have to go for the whole Leave option as the destination, with no anchoring into alternative interim organisations for some years, otherwise we would never get out.

      R North may have considerable expertise on all the nitty gritty, but he is not a politician, and he apparently refuses to accept that uncontrolled mass immigration was a hugely significant factor for so many in the Leave camp. One of his presentations on Flexcit in London never had immigration formally on the agenda, it seemed. You cannot ignore the human factor and just concentrate on the finer points and details of all the economic arguments. That is why he has failed to persuade key Leave negotiators to embrace Flexcit, I suggest.

  25. Julien Tabulazero
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Dear John,

    As you already know there is already a significant amount of agricultural commodities that trades on a tariff free basis under WTO rules. The WTO tariffs typically apply for volumes above a certain threshold level and usually on a sliding scale basis. It applies to beef/pork for example.

    As the UK is leaving the EU, there will need to be a discussion as to how those schedule will be split which as you may have guessed will be a can of worms altogether.
    It is nonetheless great news that the UK want to trade world-wide on a tariff free basis as you seem to suggest. The EU will even help you achieve that by giving you all its schedule if you like. Here have it. It’s on us.

    Now, this is great news for British consumers who will get his meat on the cheap but this also means incidentally that British beef producers will compete directly against Argentinian cattle ranchers and probably get destroyed in the process (a Falkland re-match ?) on simply on a cost basis… especially if labour cost go up post Brexit as EU immigration falls.

    … but like Brexit, if it is really what you want, the EU should be very happy to oblige. See, we can be sensible after all.

    Best regards

    Reply Not what I wrote. Do try to read what I say first.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 3:26 am | Permalink

      A bit silly. The schedules and conditions are all public and freely available. What use would they be if they were not? UK has had them all the time. So thanks for nothing on that one.

      You are probably too young to know that before the EEC/EU UK was indeed a major importer of beef from Argentina – jokes about Spam are part of our heritage – and butter from Australia and New Zealand, among many other things. Increasing prices of these were a source of constant complaints after joining the EEC. Then there is fish. Oh boy, did the EU destroy UK’s fishing industry! It will take time to repair the damage and adjust but we will do it because it is better, far better, in the long term.

      • APL
        Posted April 7, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        Peter D Gardner: “Increasing prices of these were a source of constant complaints after joining the EEC. ”


        Since the Commonwealth pre-dates the EU, our treaty arrangements have not been revoked with our Commonwealth partners?

        Perhaps once our obligations under the Treaty of Rome lapse, our pre-existing Commonwealth ties can take up the slack?

        Discussions with the Commonwealth for trade should be able to go ahead now, since we’ve always been in the Commonwealth?

  26. NickC
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    John, What you say is correct, but obviously the Remains won’t agree. I have even seen a Remain predicting there will be food riots.

    The Remains’ implicit assumption is that we will still have to do what the EU tells us after we leave, just as we do now. Whether that position is merely a cynical propaganda ploy, or a genuine inability to understand what being an independent nation means, I’m not sure.

  27. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The way things are going we will probably agree to tarrif free access for EU goods entering Britain and WTO tarrifs for UK exported goods. I see the latest ploy is any EU citizen who has ever set foot on these shores should be able to claim benefits, access the NHS and education including their extended family.
    I do hope this is a belated April fool joke.

    • Chris
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      It is despairing news to see this going on. I do feel everything has been incredibly badly handled, with damaging and quite unnecessary delay in invoking Article 50.

  28. zorro
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Indeed, perhaps this can be included as a counterblast to the MP report on ‘no deal – bad deal’…. What possesses them to think that a bad deal could be better than no deal? How bad a deal does it have to be for them to walk away? I think an informed piece on how we could benefit from WTO as opposed to the status quo or dear food and heavy tariffs would be helpful.


  29. Freeborn John
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I am disturbed to read today that Nick Robinson of the BBC does not believe the corporation has an obligation to report impartially Lon Brexit now that the referendum is over. I cannot believe the BBC Charter allows impartial coverage on a politically salient topic such as the merits of any Brexit deal over WTO arrangements. If it does then I do feel the BBC Charter or law needs to changed as a matter of urgency to stop the skewed BBC support for any Brexit deal no matter what the cost.

  30. bratwurst
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Not forgetting, of course, that if we set high tariffs on food imported from the EU it is our importers (and thence UK consumers) that pay those tariffs, not the EU producers. So prices here would rise.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Swings and roundabouts for those who are both consumers and taxpayers.

      • acorn
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Applying import tariffs and using the money to subsidise consumers, will invite an investigation under the WTO “Subsidies and Countervailing Measures” rules.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted April 6, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          But that is not what I’ve said.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Or the end user will find alternative sources

    • libertarian
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 9:29 am | Permalink


      Not forgetting that we dont have to import food from the EU once we’ve left. Think you’ll find theres plenty of places in the world to source cheeper food.

    • David Price
      Posted April 6, 2017 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      Under WTO there are “special and differential treatment provisions” that would enable us to offer better terms on imports from developing countries, the EU itself uses these.

  31. sm
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I think it is a governmental duty to help maintain some kind of domestic food security; it’s surely also a good thing to bolster food production and international trade with other countries outside the EU.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    It would be interesting to go through that list and pick out the products where we run a trade surplus with the EU. (Not a trade surplus overall for EU and non-EU together, but just for the EU.) I stand to be corrected, but I think it could well be just for the trade in lamb, and for all the others we run chronic trade deficits with the EU.

    For example we heard a lot from Remainers about how our beef farmers could be hit hard by tariffs if we left the EU and its Single Market, but without them admitting that our imports of beef from the EU exceed our exports to the EU.

    “Britain buys more than double (€40bn) the agricultural produce from Europe than it sells to it (€16bn), something that also holds true individually for poultry, pork, beef and dairy.”

    Taking food and drink together, according to this article:

    EU exports to the UK were €35.5 billion in 2015, while UK exports to the EU were only €13.89 billion; I suppose that €13.89 billion corresponds to the £11 billion of exports mentioned by Clegg here:

    characteristically without mentioning the other side of the story.

    And I read here yesterday:

    “If you look at dairy exports and imports in the UK, there is a deficit of 25pc.”

    Why? Because:

    “There is neither the milk nor the capacity in the UK to supply the population with their need of dairy products …. ”

    Of course we have an expanding population, requiring more farmland to be given over to other purposes, and a lot of dairy farmers have been driven out of business, but is there not also something about the EU milk quota being insufficient for our needs?

    • acorn
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Denis, EU Milk quotas were abolished in March 2015.

      Your missing the prime directive here Denis. The Conservative Party has to get re-elected in 2020, everything else, including Brexit, comes second. It is perfectly possible for the government to convince the proletariat that we have left the EU, while not leaving the EU. You have seen how easy it was to get them to vote for Brexit; a clown on a big red bus with fantasy numbers written on its sides.

      • acorn
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        I have just been reminded of a statement by our last PM. I paraphrase; We all know what has to be done, but how do we get re-elected after we have done it.

      • libertarian
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink


        keep believing acorn, if you wish upon a star, close your eyes tightly and scream and scream until you’re sick, all your fantasies will come true

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 6, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        It’s good to know that the EU has stopped wrecking our dairy industry.

  33. John B
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    “So what would happen if we move to WTO rules and impose these high tariffs on EU foods?”

    Or impose no tariffs on food from any source so that consumers would overall pay less for food and be wealthier, and have more money to spend elsewhere in the economy to make themselves even better off and create jobs too.

    Import tariffs are taxes on locally produced goods too since they ensure the prices of locally produced goods are higher, there being no price competition to force them down.

    Just a minute while I keep my foot still and start shooting my toes off!

    And I wonder would other Countries seeing the UK imposing no tariffs reciprocate so British produce became lower cost and more widely available in other Countries?

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 3:06 am | Permalink

      I don’t fully understand it as you will see from another of my posts but I think John Redwood’s point is that the WTO will support a lowering of trade barriers and therefore, if the EU refuses to reciprocate UK is perfectly justified in applying the EU’s tariffs reciprocally, provided UK initially offers the same conditions to all MFN’s, ie. free trade.
      Another of the WTO’s principles is evolution, not revolution so that over time appropriate adjustments can be made by industries in responses to the regulatory changes. This would mean that there would be a transition, probably over some years, and that period would be different for each sector of trade depending on the size of the overall change, its impact and the adaptability of each sector of industry. The important thing with the EU, to my mind, is that the deal should be made at the beginning of the process, not at the end, otherwise we cannot be certain of the outcome. therefore at the start of the process Brexit would have happened, and the parties would have agreed the end state to be achieved, how long they would take and by what means they would achieve it. If it is kept simple and confined to trade it would not be difficult to do, because, as John Redwood and many others point out, we already have 100% compliance and free trade. It only gets difficult if you keep adding other things to the deal. For example if UK wants to formalise defence and security cooperation that should be separated out into another agreement.

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 3:10 am | Permalink

      If a country refuses your offer of lowering trade barriers it is within WTO rules to continue with others but to maintain reciprocal barriers with that one. (I think, not 100% certain but 75%)

  34. james neill
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    You pose some very important questions here that there are no easy answers to.

    First of all we might ask why our own farmers at home have not been growing and producing more of the fruit, veg, beef and other basic food stuffs necessary for our own people- surely that would have made more sense over the years, if not for economic reasons alone, then surely for national security like in case of some terrible world wide emergency, for instance war or plague, bird flu etc which is outside of our control?

    The big problem with foodstuffs is the one of getting the produce to the market quickly enough so that the freshness remains intact. There is always the danger of disease and perishability due to interruption to the refrigeration cycles from food delivered from a long way off. Back in the old days, especially after WW2 we had a huge merchant navy delivering foodstuffs to Britain on a continual flow basis but a lot of these foods were basic regular things like butter beef mutton tea wheat and cocoa etc would have been nothing like the range and variety of supermarket food that we are used to today.. and therein lies our dilemma. To think of making changes now along the lines that you propose would cause huge disruption to the everyday commerce of this country- it could be done of course – but to keep trading with far off countries for the food we need for everyday use for the long term would not make any sense at all- not for economic reasons either- (foreigner markets can also always push the prices up at any time which would be outside of our control), then there’s the cost of shipping, transport and warehousing. Here we haven’t even begun to think about public health, like disease control, bird flu etc etc

    So what’s to do? Well whatever way the brexit talks go- our farming community, including veg growers and fruit manufacturers are going to have to get out there and start to produce more everyday basic food for our own people- having to rely so much on imports here to feed ourselves is certainly not the best way forward. Then we’ll have to take a more sensible approach to the EU over what our future needs are in this regard. The word is ‘sensible’ not gung ho! And not bang the table and tell them- we are a consumer people of some 50 million and need solutions to our problems so that we can plan ahead- we need security of food supply, amongst many other things and to do that we need good long term trade deals.

  35. miami.mode
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I believe that import tariff charges currently go direct to Brussels rather than to our own government, and assuming we purchase from outside the EU after Brexit then the current tax take for the EU would be further eroded.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      75% goes to Brussels, the collecting state can keep 25% to cover its costs.

  36. Tony Hart
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Are we not allowed to import these foodstuffs from outside the EU? To answer my question, I guess that we have to impose these high tariffs on anything that we do import. But why don’t we produce our own beef, for example? And poultry? Are our costs that much higher than EU imports? Like many others, I am bewildered.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Tony Hart

      Yes, I am confused. Scottish leg of lamb £23, NZ lamb £12. I don’t understand the difference in price either. I do know many farmers around us are saying that the subsidies would sort out the serious farmers from those that tend to rely on subsidies to get by. They managed to get over the problem in NZ.

  37. agricola
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    In answer to your last question the reason is to protect the citrus growers of Southern Europe. If you examine the CAP you will find a largely protectionist racket, and I would suspect it was the stumbling block in the failed trade agreement with the USA. France pays about £19 Billion gross into the EU, but gets back about £14.5 Billion of which £8.8 Billion is in supportive CAP payments to her farmers. Guess what, they have a politically significant number of farmers. If sanity prevails in future UK/EU trade talks I would hope that much of the food trade remains as it is. We will just have the option of buying where we wish at different times in the growing year. The season for oranges in Southern Europe is roughly January to March. There are lots of possibilities worldwide April to December.

    A word of caution, supermarkets are not philanthropists, we need a body to ensure to ensure that low World prices are passed to the customer. For instance the price of shellfish in the UK is horrendous in comparison with prices in Spain. Odd when you know that the Spanish buy some of it from the UK.

    Government might consider giving help with start up investments at UK farms to enable them to give added value and identity to their basic product. Dai Evans’s Snowdon lamb should have greater value than just lamb, as an example.

    When we wish to import, the USA, Canada , Australia, the Caribbean and New Zealand could become great sources of fruit, vegetables, meat and grain, with a caveat concerning genetic modification. Lastly it is an opportunity to encourage growing and importing from Africa and Asia, as an alternative to dishing out Overseas Aid to corrupt governments. Better to improve their lives where they live than to employ the Royal Navy to save their lives from the Mediterranean.

    • agricola
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Why so slow in moderation. Have you actually received the submission.

  38. lojolondon
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Of course, we could always import food from Africa, in one stroke massively improving the economic prospects of the continent, while at the same time slashing costs locally. Take wine –
    UK “Rates per bottle from 13 March 2017 (excluding VAT @ 20%) on Wine = £2.16 per 75cl”

    Well, for a person spending £10 a bottle, that is 22%, but for a person who spends £5 on a bottle of wine, that is 44% of the cost.

    So when we ‘zero rate’ imports from other countries, the EU will come around to our side of the table like a shot, that much is totally obvious!

    • jason Wells
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      To lojolondon… sorry to have to disappoint you- but the EU is not going to come around to our side of the table – as was spelled out at other times- politics trumps economics all the way at this time – especially EU politics – so we’re in for a rough ride. Lets hope David Davis has his pencil well sharpened to take down directives because that’s the way its going to be.

      • Peter D Gardner
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 2:52 am | Permalink

        Oh well that’s easy, then. Leave the politics for the EU and we’ll take the economics.

  39. Tony Sharp
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I am astonished at the logic chopping and contrariness of some of the Remain apologists – I have heard more than one on Radio 4 say unchallenged “If we Leave the EU then foodstuff prices shall rise because of the High Tariffs …” without bothering to mention the corallary that they shall fall if we remove tariffs from elsewhere! Every argument is couched in terms as if the UK was about to be blockaded by the EU27 if we Leave with agreements in place.

  40. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    In other news, a leading Eftarian has given up in despair at the sheer ignorance and stupidity of the Ultras (yes, that includes you, JR) which will inevitably lead us to disaster, and after many years of being a leading Brexiteer has now finally come out as a Bregretter.

    • Handbags
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      What are you on about? Any chance of a translation?

      • miami.mode
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        It makes sense to me.

        Have just heard that Gibraltar is complaining about a Spanish warship incursion into its territorial waters, so when Lord (Michael) Howard gets his call-up papers he might have need of you one dawn.

      • David Price
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Is this hunt the egg? – I would guess Denis is referring to a denizen of Richard North’s blog. They refer to anyone who doesn’t believe we absolutely must join EEA/EFTA (hence “eftarian”) and follow the North doctrine as “ultras” and continually compare the number of comments on our host blog and their blog.

        I did try to follow that blog pre-referendum but the bitter and twisted, patronising rants got too much.

        • Chris
          Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          I would agree wholeheartedly, DP.

          • Chris
            Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

            Goodness, I had no Captcha tests to make that comment. What has happened?

    • forthurst
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Not a Bregretter, more a Flexcrybaby who believes that the EU can cause our lorries to back up the M2 to London without their more heavily laden transports being likewise affected because presumably the EU has magical powers to inflict economic damage on us with impunity.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Your use of insult and personal abuse as a substitute for discussion and argument reflects quite badly on you.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 5:37 am | Permalink


        I have offered quite a lot of reasoned discussion about this issue here, and as for argument it is quite difficult to argue with somebody who bans anybody who persists in dissenting from his own opinions.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 6:15 am | Permalink

        So what do you think about this, Roy, in today’s borean diatribe?

        “Only in the foetid little mind of a Tory “Ultra” could there be any question of a deal being concluded in anything short of a few years after we leave to become a “third country”.”

    • Ken Moore
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Rather than spend 9 months since last June working out a sensible plan to exit the EU, the Conservatives spent the time figuring out a strategy to remain in the EU, in a form that suits the Tory party and its vested interests. Mrs May and Mr Hammond have constantly flip flopped.
      Please be honest Mr Redwood….Brexit means Mrs May’s Brexit which is to remain half in and half out.

      Reply No evidence for that assertion.

      • Ken Moore
        Posted April 4, 2017 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

        Mr Tusk has already confirmed what we and Mrs May already knew that trade talks running alongside Article 50 secession negotiations will be impossible. Securing an ‘ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement’ will be impossible in the time frame of the negotiations anyway.
        Foolishly, the Eu has been handed the whip hand by asking for the impossible.

        Now Mrs May’s spin machine will get to work hoping that the public have glimpsed just enough potential economic damage to accept associate Eu membership or a transitional deal that becomes permanent.

        Either way Mrs May will ensure the Uk arrives back where it started before the referendum so that it’s inconvenient result can be finally put to bed.

      • Peter D Gardner
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 2:49 am | Permalink

        Lots of indirect evidence. I had typed it in but it suddenly disappeared. Jittery mouse. Bottom line. 48% EU competencies still applying, 52% not. Her difficulty is deciding which. Endless permutations and combinations. Hence 9 months to decide the obvious like not seeking membership of the single market. Remaining difficulties : how to make the principle work given the different referendum proportions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I must admit it would be very challenging.
        But we could start by following the EU’s position on Gibraltar and applying it to Scotland. Thus, any difficulty with the EU could be resolved by accepting their demands for Scotland but not for the rest of UK. Then post Brexit the deal simply says, all those exceptions may be amended or removed subject to agreement by the EU and appropriate powers will be delegated to Scotland for that purpose. Then we just leave Ms Sturgeon to get on with it. Wev could add a sweetener by accepting Verhofstadt’s generous offer of free EU citizenship, but only in the case of Nicola Sturgeon. He’d be so chuffed he would immediately make her an Honorary MEP and we could cancel her UK citizenship, substituting Scotland only.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 5, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

        That cannot happen while she continues to reject one of the four freedoms, which are indivisible in the eyes of those leading the EU.

  41. John
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I thought it would be good when we start to see our ministers and PM our there talking trade and maybe using that as leverage if there are HR abuses. Seeing our influence return again and that that would get some more remainers on board. Watching the news it seems they are still determined to put a bad slant on anything.

  42. Anna
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    If prices rise on imported EU products after Brexit I shall simply not buy them and hope others will do the same. It is clever marketing and promotion rather than the inherent superiority of the products that fill our shops with EU foodstuffs. Properly sourced UK goods are a match for most of them. Even before the referendum I always made it my business to support UK or Commonwealth products over EU products. I am fortunate to live in Wales where there is a huge upsurge in demand for Welsh produce. We have excellent beef from locally-reared, grass-fed Welsh Black cattle, as well as lamb, mutton and pork from prize-winning local suppliers with high standards of animal welfare (not always true of veal production in Holland or bacon production in Denmark). Supermarkets here, as well as small shops, stock and enthusiastically promote Welsh butter, cheese and other dairy products. They also stock, seasonally, excellent venison from New Zealand as well as fruit. Who would eat a dreary French Golden Delicious apple (a misnomer if ever there was one) rather than a crisp and juicy New Zealand Braeburn? New World wines are often excellent too!

  43. Prigger
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Recently I read about the need to keep a proper balance between sodium ( as in table salt ) and potassium.The article stated that “we” eat far too much salt ( sodium ) and not enough potassium. I took to the internet and it seemed I hardly ate anything containing potassium. The following list and similar ones showed me the food I MUST eat.
    Avocado Acorn Squash Spinach Sweet Potato Wild-Caught Salmon.

    Much later I found that just normal spuds , boiled, mashed and as chips provide huggins of potassium.

    We need to stop putting so much emphasis on career-chefs who advocate “healthy diets” telling us to stop eating carbohydrates, fried stuff and a whole host of other actually healthy food.
    So there should be a revised BRITISH DIET. Also far more sensible people than some dietitians. We can grow and fish for many of our truly favourite and very nutritious foods and we’ll know where they come from.

  44. Simon
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Err………… John you have been saying for years we should offer the EU a continuation of tariff free terms have you not ? Why the hell should we ? And are you now changing your tune ? The CAP is one of the biggest iniquities of the Franco German EU racket and has been for years. Our grievance is amplified by Blair giving up half Maggie’s rebate in exchange for “reform” which never came. I would not trust our government of any persuasion to negotiate their way to the bathroom never mind deal with the EU. Least of all the PM.

  45. E.S Tablishment
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Mrs Sturgeon would readily relate that her nation survived at times with Scottish food alone. Nettles (urtica dioica ),Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ), oats, eggs, fish and milk ( not altogether in one meal…necessarily . In point of fact, a diet of Nettles combined with the better known eggs or milk or oats or fish would have kept a Scottish Robinson Crusoe quite slim but fighting fit for decades and with Scottish blankets woven from the nettle stems
    So we should reassess our food imports and not leave it to the whims of food-firm advertisers and their paid-for chef-advisors.
    We survived in the UK with winter seas blocking food imports of any kind and snow and frost on the ground preventing anything but the most hardy plant and root from growing. We do not realise our gigantic strength!

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 2:34 am | Permalink

      Indeed. There was a time when the English didn’t eat porridge and oats were for horses so they were very surprised to find that in Scotland oats were devoured by the people.

  46. The PrangWizard
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    It could be interesting to have views at some point on the effects which might occur here at home with reductions in tariffs which may come along, and compare today with the 19th century following the repeal of the Corn Laws.

    Will the government dare make any significant changes – will they even end tariffs on oranges? If they lack the courage we can kiss good-bye to any reduction in food prices.

  47. E.S Tablishment
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    The NHS is controlled by government. The government should take more care who it allows appointed in the NHS and what advice it takes on the nations’s diet and health.
    The Labour government dismissed or allowed to resign a group of highly qualified and experienced medical “experts” advising it on marijuana and advocating it should be allowed. The Labour government was right.
    We have had a century and more of ill-advice from our “expert”medical authorities. One could list millions of its victims if the names could be released. Its current fad and those of just a few decades have led to most of our food being junk! It even advocated pasta as a slimming food!!Dopes!
    Our air is polluted to death with diesel fumes thanks to “experts”.
    So if we are to buy anything in the food line from the EU we need someone in government who can sort out the wheat from the chaff. We should not import food virtually devoid of nutritional value with bland tastes encouraging eating more of it just to feel “filled”.

  48. Mockbeggar
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I came across this in a regular blog called Capital and Conflict by a chap called Nick Hubble sub-headed ‘Deal or No Deal?’:

    ‘But what are the options under a deal?

    ‘If free trade with the EU was good while we were part of the EU, it doesn’t become bad when we’re not. It doesn’t matter who benefits more. It’s clear both parties benefit from trade. And so imposing tariffs is bad.

    ‘It’s a false dichotomy to choose between “trade and the EU” versus “no trade and Brexit”. Britain is leaving. Free trade is in the interest of both Britain and the EU. Britain is pro-trade. What will the EU be?

    ‘What’s fascinating is that the EU is not acting in the best interest of its citizens if it rejects a trade deal. It is acting in the best interests of the EU – the EU’s survival.

    ‘The motivation for no deal comes only from the EU. It is to punish Britain at the expense of citizens in both places. And the motivation for punishing Britain is to discourage other countries from leaving. That doesn’t benefit citizens, it only benefits Brussels.

    ‘Hopefully EU voters will notice this and want to leave the EU even more.’

    It summarises my own view of the Brussels mentality rather neatly.

  49. David Lister
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    There is nothing in your article that addresses your title ‘cheaper food’.

    Growing our own because we can’t afford the imports from the EU doesn’t make it cheaper, – if so we would be doing this already. The reason it is cheaper elsewhere is that other markets are able to produce those food stuffs more efficiently because of soil, climate, or scale production.

    Other locations can not easily replace the EU because of geography. Fresh food is much more efficiently produced and transported when closer to the consumer.

    On the other hand, the weaker pound increases the costs of production for the UK due to energy, packaging, primary agrichemicals and fertilisers being priced in dollars. The pound has reduced in value relative to dollars by 15-20% relative to immediately before the referendum as the most recent reference point. This is already apparent in food price inflation of products that are produced in the UK.

    Production in the UK for UK market (alone) is less efficient due to economies of scale. Food production is a complex supply chain which ensures that the food production is available to the largest possible market driving efficiencies and cost reduction. Reducing economies of scale increases cost.

    Our exports will be unable to be competitive with the EU as those tariffs that you quote will apply to our exporters.

    The EU accounts for 97% of all lamb and mutton exports. Without this export market the sustainability of the industry and the livelihoods of 10,000 sheep farmers in jeopardy.

    Dropping tariffs to other 3rd countries is not always clever. Do we want chlorinated chicken, GM crops, and hormone fed cattle flooding our market. No thanks.

  50. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, scanning through the results of this ICM poll:

    I was interested to see from Table 8 that people across the UK have almost identical views about whether we should continue to allow freedom of movement of persons from the EU for a few years after we have left the EU, as part of a transitional deal.

    Scotland 55% “Acceptable”, 30% “Unacceptable”, while across parts of England and Wales “Acceptable” ranged from 52% to 56%, “Unacceptable”from 27% to 32%. There seems to be a pretty uniform judgment on whether this would be reasonable.

    But compared to the English and Welsh the Scots are rather more favourable to the idea that even after we have left the EU the citizens of its member states should be given some element of preferential treatment for immigration purposes; overall across GB the split was 48% “Acceptable” to 28% “Unacceptable”.

  51. Mike Williamson
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    If the Dutch are so competitive at flower growing that we cannot compete with them, they surely must be on very low wages and profit margins? Or is it that their governments over the years have worked hard with growers to build their industry?

    • acorn
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      It’s the latter Mike. Dutch GDP per capita is 26% greater than the UK; and, it runs a 9% current account surplus. But, household debt to income is near twice the UK level.

  52. norman
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to see how milk could be any cheaper, as our dairy farmers, as primary producers, have barely been breaking even for several years now. They are highly efficient and welfare conscious, so unless I’m missing something, surely milk cannot go down in price? There’s also a world surplus of butter, which sometimes has to be offloaded at a loss in exports to Third Countries – the ramifications of world trade are much more complicated and devious than it might appear, it seems to me: even the EU’s level playing field is probably unsuitable for cricket!

  53. John
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    The high Beef tariff is interesting when you think about Argentinian beef and a certain successful steak house chain here.

    It does open the possibility to soften relations with Argentina over the Falklands if the powers felt that was a route to take. Point is, it would be in our gift to decide.

  54. Richard
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Farming communities voted heavily to Leave. They were promised by Mr Johnson that they would be no worse off – they would retain all subsidies and protections. So what John Redwood proposes is a gross breach of trust.

    Reply Try reading what I wrote – the needs of our industry are respected

  55. tony
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Anyone would think from John’s deliberations here the Conservative party were but mere bystanders to our current malaise. My view is talk of tariffs is a distant dream and we will only end up with a fta supporting the continuation of the EU’s massive trade imbalance, be locked in to follow their economic policies and signed up to their social and environmental chapters of nonsense. We voted to leave and I think people accept that may mean some short term hardship after 43 years or so in this conservative sponsored union of the dammed where post Brexit we will still be subject to the EAW despite the historical echoes of our way of life under Heabus Corpus and Magna Carta.

  56. Original Richard
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    “We now import around half our butter and 60% of our cheese, 35% of our beef, 60% of our pork and 40% of our poultry….. Moving to world prices for items where we could not produce at home would help reduce price levels.”

    I trust the government will show it is actively sourcing food and other essential products from non-EU countries for when the EU carries out its threat to make leaving the EU worse than remaining.

  57. Rp
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    No mention of food security regarding UK farmers? Without subsidy, most UK farming will be unprofitable and it will return to low cost “dog and stick” farming with low levels of food production and massively increased imports to make up the shortfall.

    This isn’t because UK farmers are inefficient – The UK has a more difficult wet climate than most other places and has to comply with very strict environmental rules and regulations. For example, UK farmers are not allowed to use GM crops (as they do in the USA) and are not allowed to remove all hedgerows to make large efficient fields (as you would find in USA / Australia) etc. Beef farmers are not permitted to stuff their animals with anti-biotics like they do in the USA.

    If there are no tarrifs on food imports to protect U.K. farmers producing to high standards and instead cheap imports are permitted that are produced to standards and using methods that would be illegal in the U.K., farming in the U.K. will be decimated.

  58. Grower
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    No EU nation or the whole of the EU combined can compete with South American, Asian, Oriental, African,Russian meat and vegetables especially if we create facilities there which do not presently exist on the scale we would wish and ensure our standards if not directly supervised by our managers are nevertheless strictly observed.
    Hasn’t Britain done this kind of stuff with rubber plantations, soya, pineapple ,cocoa, tea and coffee in the past? Even narcotics? We’re good at growing stuff all over the show. The EU negotiators should keep this in mind in case things get naughty.

  59. Shirty person
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    The EU, Merkel, must be told early-on we should not be forced to find an alternative supplier of their goods nor and alternative market for our goods. There will be a long-term trade consequence of inconveniencing us. They will not be able to compete price-wise with our alternatives.Can they produce a shirt for 2p as can the Chinese? They should hurry with their ideas on we buying their textiles.

  60. Peter D Gardner
    Posted April 5, 2017 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    “So what would happen if we move to WTO rules and impose these high tariffs on EU foods? It would be wise to cut tariffs on various foodstuffs we could not produce economically at home from non EU countries, which you can always do under the WTO scheme as they are out to stop increases, not declines.”

    This is the part that is unclear to me about MFN status. It is generally taken to mean that if a country lowers tariffs (or NTBs) for one MFN it must do so for all. So how could UK increase trade barriers with the EU while lowering them for everyone else?
    Clearly the WTO supports lowering of trade barriers. It is its raison d’etre. Clearly also it tolerates customs unions because their creation lowers barriers within them, which is better than nothing. It’s approach is evolutionary, not revolutionary.
    So is offering free trade enough to comply with WTO rules even if the other party rejects it? If so then the sequence of events is important. If UK imposes barriers to EU trade it would be in breach of the MFN rules even if it removed all barriers to the rest of the world. But if it first offers precisely the same terms to all assuming these to be better than the external tariffs, then if the EU rejects them, UK may still proceed with non-EU countries.
    Grateful for a clear explanation from anyone!

    • Peter D Gardner
      Posted April 5, 2017 at 2:26 am | Permalink

      Oh dear, careless grammatical errors. Please overlook these.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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