A quarter of food firms face “extinction” just six weeks after a No Deal Brexit , an industry chief has warned.
The Food and Drink Federation sounded the alarm today over what it branded the worst threat to businesses since 1939.
The prospect of a No Deal departure has ramped up as talks remain deadlocked 45 days before the UK leaves the EU.
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The simple fact is that this is the biggest threat that our members and businesses have faced since 1939.
“Many businesses are threatened with extinction.
“A no deal Brexit would lead to considerable concerns for one in 10 of our businesses.”
Mr Wright warned extra checks could create chaos for lorries at ports like Dover, with authorities unable to cope.
“Something like one in four food exporters, faced with the disruption that the government expects to see at the ports, could go out of business within six weeks,” he said.
“It’s that serious and I don’t think people are taking this threat seriously enough.”
And he said: “This is really really scary and I don’t think any amount of planning could get us ready for this.”
With 45 days left, Mrs May is expected to plead for more time in her House of Commons statement at 12.30pm – immediately after a meeting of the Tory Cabinet.
The Prime Minister will describe negotiations between Brussels and Dublin over the “backstop” clause – which could trap the UK in EU customs rules, in order to keep the Irish border open.
Downing Street said the statement, which comes a day earlier than expected, will give MPs more time to “digest the content” ahead of a series of expected Commons votes on Thursday.