Brexit transitional deal ‘a necessary first step’ for wine and spirits industry

By James Beeson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Transition: the WSTA has long been calling for 'practical and pragmatic' solutions to Brexit
Transition: the WSTA has long been calling for 'practical and pragmatic' solutions to Brexit
A transitional arrangement that enables the UK to remain within the single market and customs union is “a necessary first step” to promote confidence in the wine and spirits sector, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale.

Speaking at the WSTA annual conference, Beale said that if Brexit was to be a success then it would need to be “driven by what UK industry needs”.

“The British wine and spirits trade is underappreciated and overtaxed,” he said. “This has to change. Food and drink is now the UK's biggest manufacturing sector in no small part helped by its alcoholic drinks market. We are a £50bn industry supporting well over 500,000 jobs and generating £21m in tax for the public finances every year.”

'Practical and pragmatic' solutions

Beale added: “If Brexit is to be a success then it has to be driven by what UK industry needs. Our position remains unchanged. We are focused on making Brexit a success by minimising disruption to historic trade flows and exploiting the opportunities it presents. We can't stand by and watch our industry move from being underappreciated to being undermined.”

“A breakdown in talks without agreeing our future relationship with the EU in trade terms and without a transition period would be nothing short of a disaster,” he continued. “There would be significant disturbances to trade and prices would inevitably rise.

“We need a practical and pragmatic set of solutions and that is why we have long been calling for a transition period during which the UK remains within the customs union and the market. This is not a halfway house, it is a necessary first step to provide stability, certainty and confidence to businesses including those in our sector.”

JDW boss praises immigration

Also speaking at the WTSA annual conference was JD Wetherspoon boss and pro-Brexit campaigner Tim Martin. Martin used his speech to state he would be making the positive case to the UK Government for immigration​ after Britain leaves the EU.

He said: “Immigration has worked very well for the UK. I think that what Australia, North America, New Zealand, and places like London, show is that immigration can be and often is a good thing.

“That's the case I will be making to the Government, not just because I want someone behind the bar on a Saturday night, but because a gradually growing population goes hand in hand with an improving economy.”

The WSTA has also called on the Government to do more to help the on-trade​, after is latest market report showed that the average price of a 175ml glass of wine has increased by 21p compared to the same period last year.

Related topics: Wine, Spirits & Cocktails, Legislation

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