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  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May danced onto the stage for her eagerly awaited speech at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday.

    UK Prime Minister Theresa May danced onto the stage for her eagerly awaited speech at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 February 2019
Opinion

The heads of Britain's largest supermarkets and the British Retail Association warned of “significant disruption to food supplies” if May cannot agree to a deal before March 29.

The Labour Party has criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May for attending a party fundraiser for wealthy donors Thursday as the country hurtles towards a no-deal Brexit.

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The fundraising dinner is an annual event for the conservative party, known as the ‘Black and White Ball’. Wealthy donors bid at auction for private access to the Prime Minister and other leading figures in the party. Last year, one donor paid  55,000 pounds to spend a day with Theresa May. The Independent reported that this year, the cost of a seat at a table with a cabinet minister was priced at 1,500 pounds.  

However, Britain is just 50 days away from their Brexit deadline, where a failure to break the deadlock could leave Britain with a ‘no-deal’ Brexit that would, in turn, cause food shortages.

Labour MP Ian Lavery condemned Theresa May saying; “It’s unbelievable that rather focusing on sorting out the mess she and her party have made of Brexit, the prime minister appears to have jetted back to spend a lavish evening with super-rich donors.”

Speaking to the Independent he continued “Tory ministers live on a different planet. While they are busy hobnobbing with super-rich donors at a lavish party, our public services are in crisis”

Theresa May attended the dinner party in the middle of last-minute talks with the EU to negotiate a deal. The previously-agreed deal has been rejected by the U.K. Parliament as Brexiteers labeled it a ‘betrayal’ for its provisions on the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ that would indefinitely commit the 6 counties to a closer relationship to Europe than the British mainland.

Labour also voted down May’s deal, calling instead for a customs union with the EU, promising to “negotiate a Brexit deal that brings Britain together, protecting workers’ rights, our economy, jobs, and living standards.”

If Theresa May fails to negotiate an exit deal that is supported by both the EU and the UK Parliament then the country will leave on March 29 with ‘no deal’.

This would mean that overnight, strict border controls would be imposed on goods coming from the EU. Many are concerned as Britain relies heavily on imported food, mostly from the EU that currently enjoys tariff-free access that would end in the event of no deal. The Bank HSBC estimates that 80 percent of the food consumed by Brits is imported.

The heads of Britain's largest supermarkets and the British Retail Association warned of “significant disruption to food supplies” if May cannot agree to a deal before March 29th. HSBC has also warned that supermarkets are not able to stockpile frozen food as a contingency plan since Britain's frozen storage capacities are already at full capacity.

Theresa May has so far failed to negotiate a deal. However, the government has been able to draw up contingency plans in the case of riots and civil unrest, such as, plans to evacuate the Queen and mobilize troops on the streets.  

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