Britain could ‘starve’ if UK immigration bars fruit pickers

13 Dec 2017 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Britain could “starve” following Brexit due to UK immigration preventing the entry of migrant fruit pickers into the country to help the horticulture industry, according to England’s leading wine producer.

Frazer Thompson, chief executive of Chapel Down, has revealed that continued access to EU migrant workers is crucial to ensure tonne of fruit is not wasted in farms across Britain.

Data from the National Farmers’ Union has estimated that there was a shortfall in seasonal workers of 29 per cent in September 2017 as a result of chances to UK immigration following the Brexit announcement, with officials suggesting this situation could get worse when Brexit comes into effect fully.

Commenting on the data, Thompson added that the agricultural industry could actually feel the greatest impact of Brexit, adding that Britain could “starve” if the labour issue is not sorted ahead of the official Brexit date.

"We want a resolution to allow us to have freedom of movement for labour to pick the fruit, this is something that affects all fruit farmers across the south east of England,” he said.

"I'm hoping it will be sorted out and I hope they won't close the doors, as if there's no-one to pick the fruit, we'll have to import everything."

Commenting on the data, a Home Office spokeswoman added that Britain remains committed to reducing UK immigration levels, adding that there will be an “implementation period” following Brexit in order to avoid a “cliff edge” for British businesses.