UK votes to leave Europe: The drinks industry reacts to Brexit

24 June, 2016

The UK has voted to leave the EU and Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned. Meanwhile, the pound has dropped to its lowest level since 1985.

The UK drinks industry has been quick to react to the news and they warn of uncertain times ahead, but many have also vowed they will work closely with the government in order to secure the best outcome for the industry.

The chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said: "The British public have voted to leave the European Union opening a new chapter in our history. While our members felt that the wine and spirit industry was stronger in the EU, we will work to assist government in preserving our access to the Single Market, supporting British drinks exports and agreeing the best possible international free trade agreements.

“The WSTA will do everything it can to ensure that the UK’s wine and spirit industry has a powerful voice with a view to promoting the great British drinks industry’s leading position and fulfilling its huge potential in an increasingly competitive international market place.”

And David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, also warns of uncertain times ahead but said we should now focus on potential opportunities.

“Voters have spoken and decided that the UK should leave the European Union,” he said. “All must now get behind the government as it faces the challenges, and the opportunities, this decision brings.

“The process of leaving the EU will inevitably generate significant uncertainty.  Of course, we are confident Scotch Whisky will remain the pre-eminent international spirit drink.  But equally, there are serious issues to resolve in areas of major importance to our industry and which require urgent attention, notably the nature of future trade arrangements with both the single market and the wider world.

“The government will now need to consult as it prepares its negotiating approach.  We look forward to working closely with them on that.  We urge thoughtful and serious consideration by all parties so that we can secure the best possible continued access to the EU and other export markets on which Scotch Whisky’s success has been built, whilst minimising costs and complexity.”

Representatives at Red Squirrel Wine also voiced their concerns for the industry but they also expressed a determination to embrace the challenges ahead.

"This is a sombre day, the effects of which we can only begin to understand and it will be an uncertain few months and years to come as Britain amputates itself from the EU.

"However, while half the population is feeling depressed today, I can only presume that the other half is in good spirits. If you're in the business of selling celebratory booze, that can't be a bad thing.

"In all seriousness, there will be bumps in the road but everyone at Red Squirrel Wine is more determined than ever to continue sourcing brilliant wines, from Europe and around the world, and at the fairest prices for growers and consumers.

"This isn't the result that we or indeed many other people in our industry hoped for, but the job starts now to make it work for everyone. It might be bloody terrifying, but an exciting challenge we'll grab with a corkscrew and both hands."

Meanwhile, Rowan Gormley, the chief executive of Majestic Wines, warned earlier this week that wine prices could rise in the event of the UK leaving the EU. He said the supply chain would be largely unaffected but said all imported goods, including wine, would suffer price rises in the event of Brexit, particularly if the pound falls in value.

And for the beer industry, BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds, said: "It is vital that the Government acts quickly to secure economic stability and protect consumer confidence. We will be vigilant to ensure the Brexit negotiations doe not harm our exports abroad and the competitive position of beer and pubs in Britain."




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