Brexit branded ‘totally devastating’ as fish supplier lashes out

Keir Starmer insists Brexit agreement with EU is a ‘bad deal’

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Brexit has been branded “totally devastating” by a a wholesale meat and fish supplier, who has claimed the cost of everything they have imported has surged by at least 25 percent. Tomorrow marks three days to the day Britain left the European Union, but Mariella Gabbutt, whose family have run wholesale fish and meat supplier J+B Wilde for more than 100 years, said Brexit has “decimated” her industry and the country.

Finishing up her day at Openshaw’s New Smithfield Market, she said: “Brexit has been totally devastating for us. The cost of everything we import has gone up by at least 25 percent, minimum.

“I have been doing this a long time and I have never known anything put so much pressure on the industry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just Brexit – we’ve also had Covid and this stupid war with Ukraine – but Brexit was the catalyst for it.”

On Friday, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered a speech in Central London where he outlined his plan to grow the UK economy following a rollercoaster period where inflation and interest rates have surged.

He said Britain “needs to make Brexit a catalyst for the bold choices that will take advantage of the nimbleness and flexibilities that it makes possible”.

But Mariella insisted that vision couldn’t be further from the reality of what she is seeing every day as businesses struggle to keep their heads above water.

She told the Manchester Evening News: “I have seen hundreds of restaurants come and go over the years, but I’ve never so many closing as are now.

“We have had to pull credit, we’ve just stopped doing it, because we are terrified of businesses shutting down and leaving us out of pocket.”

Mariella said J+B Wilde had traditionally imported fish such as clams and oysters from across the English Channel in France around three or four times a week. But this has come to a sudden halt because since Brexit, the cost of each delivery has jumped by more than £100. Ducks, which she buys from France and Poland, have doubled in price.

She also said in January 2022, some £200,000 of seafood went to waste after two truck loads of fresh fish from Turkey had to be sent back from the border because of a small error in the paperwork.

In an effort to make sure that is not repeated again, J+B Wilde now employs someone to handle the documentation needed for each shipment.

However, at £65 per delivery, it is still proving to be a massive cost issue for the business.

Mariella launched a furious attack against the Chancellor, concluding: “It used to take a couple of weeks to get your order, now it’s six to eight weeks.

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“We can’t get lorry drivers, fruit pickers, restaurants can’t get waiters, washer-uppers, the NHS has a massive shortage of nurses. Don’t tell me that Brexit has not decimated this country.

“This country will not recover from Brexit for at least 25 years, so how can Jeremy Hunt say that? Brexit has not done anything good for anybody who imports into this country.”

During his speech last week, Mr Hunt had said he wanted Brexit to become a “catalyst” for economic growth in order to reduce the “weaknesses” in the UK economy.

The Chancellor said: “We want to be one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. Today I want to set out our plan to address those issues.

“That plan, our plan for growth is necessitated, energised and made possible by Brexit. The desire to move to a high-wage, high-skill economy is one shared on all sides of that debate.

“We need to make Brexit a catalyst for the bold choices that will take advantage of the nimbleness and flexibilities that it makes possible.”

Mr Hunt also claimed Brexit has provided an opportunity for the UK to change its regulations so that innovative companies can more easily access cash.

He said “Britain needs a more positive attitude to risk-taking”, as it is “too cautious compared to our US friends.”

The Chancellor continued: “Brexit is an opportunity not just to change regulations, but also to work with our experienced, effective, and independent regulators”, he said.

“To create an economic environment which is more innovation friendly, and more growth focused.”

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