Britons will ‘starve’ after Brexit

England’s biggest winemaker, and supplier to 10 Downing Street, has warned that Britons will “starve” if foreign fruit pickers are not allowed into the country after Brexit.

Chapel Down CEO Frazer Thompson said his Kent-based company, which relies on EU workers to pick grapes, will be crippled if Prime Minister Theresa May goes ahead with her promise to cut net migration to the “tens of thousands” after the EU divorce.

“The biggest potential impact of Brexit is on agricultural labour. Kent has had Eastern Europeans picking fruit in recent years, but we’ll all starve if the labour issue is not sorted after Brexit,” said Thompson.

He added that tons of fruit have been left to rot in farms across the country, including in Kent, Scotland and Herefordshire, because of problems recruiting European pickers.

Thompson said: “We want a resolution to allow us to have freedom of movement for labour to pick the fruit.”

He joins a chorus of business leaders who have issued warnings on how Brexit will affect agriculture, aerospace, manufacturing, retail, airlines, construction and financial services.

The National Farmers’ Union earlier reported that the horticulture industry had a 29% shortfall of seasonal workers in September.

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