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Jon Worth @jonworth
, 17 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
This @politicoeurope piece and infographic by @kbolongaro about the #Brexit and the ham and cheese sandwich has been widely retweeted.

Do read the whole piece - don't just rely on the infographic.…

But let's just say for a minute that, spurred on by national sandwich sentiment post a No Deal Brexit, the UK did want to make itself more self-sustaining in its food production, what could it do?

First some stats: Defra has useful stats on UK food import dependency here:…

The first Excel table shows how import dependency for food has been growing (the UK now imports 40% of its food), and the second Excel download lists value by food type.

To take one of the ingredients from Politico's piece - pork 🐖 - the UK has an interesting situation, in that it imports a *lot*, but exports a fair bit too - imports worth £739,814,000, exports £217,928,000 in 2013 prices.

But even if the UK on 29 March 2019 ceased to export any pork, and all was given to national consumption, Britain cannot self sustain in pork.

It would have to either lower its consumption, or increase its production.

Try "Eat less pork" as a slogan on the side of a Brexit bus. Not looking good.

Or try boosting production - you would need lines of new farms, and due to the lack of available land, would probably have to farm more intensively.


But look.

There's Michael Gove advocating *precisely* the opposite - that UK farming is already too intensive.…

However it takes 29 weeks to get a pig to slaughter weight. And there are 33 weeks remaining until the end of the Article 50 period on 29 March 2019.

So set to it, pig farmers!

What about veg then.

The 🍅 tomato in the sandwich?

Tomatoes need warmth. That comes from sun (Spain), or from a greenhouse (Netherlands) in the UK's case.

The UK can't muster up the first, but could do the second. Put up hectares of greenhouses.

But even if it wanted to, who is going to foot the cost of that initial investment? One presumes it would be passed on to customers via higher tomato prices.

The same would apply to lettuces 🥗 - these can even grow outdoors, albeit more slowly than in Spain.

Beyond the sandwich ingredients, what about fruit, and specifically that English staple: the apple 🍏

Yes, you guessed it, the UK is nowhere near self-sustaining in apples. It imports almost £400,000,000 worth of apples every year.

But forget that before Brexit. Even if you could secure the land, your trees are going to need 2 to 3 years to even begin fruiting.…

And that is even before we come on to the products that - for climatic reasons - the UK cannot possibly grow. Making the case to forego some southern European grapes for some English apples, or some Comté for some Wensleydale might be a stretch.

Here - as in pretty much any other detail of Brexit - you are left with 🤦‍♀️ when you examine it.

The UK *could* sort out its food production to become more self sustaining, but it would take years and massive cost to do so, and even then probably wouldn't manage.

But with Brexit 9 months away, and public finances already ludicrously stretched, it is not something anyone sane would want to contemplate.

The impact of No Deal on the food supply alone ought to mean No Deal is not even a vaguely serious option.

There are other ways.

Reconsider the strategy and aim for a EFTA style soft Brexit that keeps supply chains open. Or, if negotiations falter, ask the rest of the EU to extend Article 50.

But DO NOT crash out.

To those reacting to this tweet saying “oooh, UK should be less depend on food imports, and should buy more local seasonal produce” - sure, fine, I’m all for it!

But do that over years with a sustainability plan, not through painful shock of No Deal #Brexit! 🤦‍♂️
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