Following Theresa May’s announcement that the UK is set to leave the single market, the industry has reacted to the news that could affect their businesses.

During the anticipated speech, the PM noted that staying a member of the European single market would mean “not leaving the EU at all”.

May outlined the UK’s priorities for Brexit negotiations, including rights for EU nationals in Britain, free trade with European markets and new trade agreements with other countries.

"Much needed clarity"

Ian Wright, director general of the FDF, has welcomed “some much needed clarity and commitment to securing the freest and simplest possible trade arrangements with the EU”.

He added: “We are also encouraged that the PM hopes to adopt a phased approach to Brexit, which offers businesses time to prepare and plan as opposed to a potentially fatal jump from the cliff edge.”

"Ambitious plan with the right priorities"

Meanwhile, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium said that the Prime Minister had an ambitious plan with the right priorities.

“It is crucial that Britain gets a new deal that works for ordinary British consumers, which doesn’t hit them with the costs of new import tariffs at a time when the pound is already weakened,” she said.

“The government has an opportunity to secure a win-win deal that works for the UK economy, by keeping prices down for consumers, while allowing the EU to continue benefiting from its open-trade relationship with the UK.”

Agriculture is a key industry for Britain

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) responded by outlining four principles which British food production needs in a post-Brexit Britain:

  • The best possible access to trade with Europe;
  • Access to a competent and reliable workforce;
  • The government to give a commitment that agriculture is a key industry for Britain and a post-Brexit Britain will allow farmers to be profitable, productive and realise the potential of British food production;
  • That any changes to trading relationships or the agricultural policy affecting farmers should be subject to a period of transition to allow farming businesses to adapt to any new environment.

The NFU has long called for clarity from government as to what the intended trading environment will be for Britain post-Brexit. Some 72% of agricultural exports go to the EU, with some sectors being heavily dependent on trade with the rest of Europe. For example, 78% of wheat and barley exports went to the EU, according to the union.

In October, Liberal Democrat politician Nick Clegg warned that UK food prices would see a steep hike if the government were to opt for a hard Brexit and leave the single market.

Bakery companies such as Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods recently announced they would be raising the prices that retailers pay for their products.