Former Sainsbury’s boss says Brexit to blame for food costs
Just one week ago, a poll showed a majority of British voters blame Brexit for rising food prices. A whopping 63 percent said they believe Brexit has had a negative impact on food prices in supermarkets.
And why wouldn’t they? Every day they see relentless attacks on Brexit by much of the media and opposition MPs.
Former George Osborne advisor James Chapman said the polling was proof “the mood really is turning”, egging on one of the “main parties” to respond – in other words, use the polling as an excuse to launch an all-out assault on the biggest democratic decision in modern British political history.
Brexit couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Two months after finally departing the bloc, Britain was struck first by Covid, which was disastrous for global supply chains and access to fruit-picking labour; then by Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, cutting off the breadbasket of Europe.
Two world events that had disastrous consequences on food prices came immediately after Brexit, which was promised to lower food prices – no Brexiteer will deny it wasn’t great PR for the project.
Brexit britain’s food prices are lower than the EU average, despite Remoaners’ claims (Image: Getty)
However, new BBC analysis out today suggests the prevailing orthodoxy about Brexit’s effect on food prices is largely devoid of truth.
Unsurprisingly the BBC’s analysis led with the sentence: “Loo roll, butter and ketchup are more expensive in the UK compared to some of our biggest European neighbours, research for the BBC suggests.”
But ignoring the expected anti-Brexit slant, the analysis of overall prices is fascinating.
Core household items like bread, eggs and cooking oil are all cheaper in the UK than the European average.
A recent survey by Oxford Economics found UK food costs to be 7 percent below the EU average, and even when focusing on comparable economies like Germany, France, Italy and Spain the UK finds itself on the cheaper half of the ledger.
Despite what Remainers might say, Brexit hasn’t hit food prices (Image: Getty)
Economist Julian Jessop responded to the data: “There is no hard evidence that Brexit has had a significant impact on UK food prices either way.
“Since 2019, food prices have risen by roughly the same amount as the average in the euro area, and by less than in the EU as a whole. Many countries, including Germany, Portugal and Sweden, have suffered bigger rises.”
The BBC even goes so far as to suggest that France’s love of protectionist policies – keeping consumer prices high to “protect” producers – is the reason why a combined shopping basket of 23 goods is £15.85 higher than in the UK.
This, surely, is all the proof we need that when Remainers bang on about how the UK trade deal with Australia “sold out” British farmers, they are actually arguing for higher consumer prices for hard-pressed British shoppers.
Economist Julian Jessop says the data prove Brexit hasn’t hit food prices (Image: Channel 4)
Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium told the BBC: “This research confirms UK consumers benefit from a highly competitive market, delivering some of the cheapest groceries in Europe.
“We believe it underestimates the savings British consumers are making when buying staple food items, including fresh produce, as well as the value consumers can find by shopping around, another benefit of the strong competition in the UK market.”
The BBC even goes so far – you may want to hold onto your hats here – as to point out that food price inflation “is affecting every European country”. Don’t expect that fact to go viral on Twitter any time soon.
Responding to the data, Nigel Farage pointed out: “If it wasn’t for high immigration numbers and a failure to cut regulation, Brexit would be considered a success.”
The fear here is that Brexiteers could have won the war but frittered away the victory in the aftermath.
Nigel Farage argues that if it weren’t for Government policy failures, Brexit would be a success (Image: Getty)
Instead of Rishi Sunak focusing on the economic freedom and border control Brits were promised, he’s allowing record-high immigration numbers and ever-higher taxes.
Worse than that, a fortnight ago the PM was asking supermarkets to enter into an absurd Heathite voluntary price controls system on food – despite today’s data showing that to not only be economically illiterate but a total waste of time given the cost context among Europe-wide food prices.
John Redwood MP, responding to the data, tweeted: “Food has gone up too much, but these figures show it is not Brexit that has done it.”
He’s right, but the chattering Remainer classes won’t hear a word of it.