Government to protect agriculture and some manufacturing sectors with tariffs in No Deal Brexit

There are reports that the UK government will protect import-sensitive agricultural and manufacturing sectors with tariffs in a No Deal Brexit, but will drop tariffs on most other goods. 

Agricultural products which will be protected with tariffs include milk, cheese, pork, beef and lamb. Industrial products will have their tariffs set at zero, but there will be exceptions for vulnerable sectors such as steel and ceramics. 

The EU’s 10% external tariff on finished cars will also be applied. The tariffs would initially be set at these levels for a year. 

A government spokesman said, “If we leave the EU without an agreement, our tariffs will need to strike a balance between protecting consumers and businesses from possible price rises and avoiding the exposure of sensitive industries to competition.” 

The government is expected to officially announce the tariffs at the end of the week after privately informing industry stakeholders.

Meanwhile, other reports said that the Government has agreed to honour large parts of the £39 billion financial settlement with the EU even in the event of a No Deal Brexit. The decision was made at the Cabinet’s “No Deal” preparedness committee yesterday.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn announced yesterday that the Labour Party will back a second referendum. 

The party now plans to put forward its own plan for Brexit this week, which includes a permanent customs union as well as a close relationship with the single market. If that plan fails to pass, Labour will put forward or support an amendment favouring a second referendum on Brexit.

Corbyn said, “One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent no deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May’s overwhelmingly rejected deal,” adding, “That’s why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.”

Elsewhere, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said that in a second EU referendum, “the basic choice needs to be between a credible Leave option and Remain.” 

Asked whether a public vote would also include the option of a No Deal Brexit, Starmer added, “No it wouldn’t. We’ve said for a long time no deal would be disastrous for the country… every business says that.” Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry also said last night that Labour supported a referendum which would put the Prime Minister’s deal against Remain.

 This came after Labour sources had earlier suggested that the plan was to put their own Brexit plan, rather than the Prime Minister’s, to a referendum.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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