Tesco loved Brexit last month! Raab slaps down CEO scaremongering on panic buying

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Tesco chairman John Allan suggested food bills could rise by as much as 5 percent as a result of the tariffs and disruption from a no deal Brexit. Mr Allan said his company has been stockpiling non-fresh food to prepare for potential shortages in a no deal scenario. But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dismissed the claim as he sought to play down the impact of a potential no deal Brexit on food prices whilst acknowledging there will be “bumps along the road”.

Mr Raab told the BBC “I don’t think that’s a figure that we recognise” and tariffs would be a “very minor proportion” of food prices.

He said: “Of all the things that will be a challenge, I am not concerned about either supermarket cupboards running bare or the cost of food prices.

“Equally, there will be some bumps along the road if we don’t get a free trade deal, that’s the inevitable consequence of change.

“But we will be well braced and well prepared to deal with those, and we are going to make a success of leaving the transition period, come what may.”

Addressing Tesco’s warning on ITV Good Morning Britain, Mr Raab added: “I don’t accept the scaremongering about food prices.

“If you look at tariffs they are a very small proportion of the food bill.”

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He added: “In relation to the CEO of Tesco he actually said earlier in the month that Tesco was well placed for Brexit with or without a new trade deal.”

The Foreign Secretary stressed the “positives” of being outside the EU, whether the UK manages to agree to a deal or not.

He said: “There are also positives come January 1. Liz Truss has done a great job, we’ve got 27 trade deals with non-EU countries we have teamed up with.

“Some of those will be under continuous arrangements that we had as EU members, but some like with Japan on data and digital will take us further.

“And we’ve seen recently from Netflix and pharmaceutical companies, big London HQs, investing in this country.”

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He continued: “Look, I’m not saying there won’t be changes on January 1 or some degree of challenge, there will and we’ll make a success of it.

“Let’s not lose sight of the positives and the opportunities.”

Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen held crunch talks over dinner in Brussels on Wednesday aimed at breaking the deadlock, but Downing Street warned afterwards that “very large gaps” remained.

The pair agreed that a decision on the future of the negotiations will be taken by the end of the weekend.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC on Thursday that, while he could not rule out a further extension in the talks process, it is important to have “finality”.

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He said: “I think it’s unlikely but I can’t categorically exclude it.”

The Cabinet minister added that there has not been “enough pragmatism and flexibility on the EU side” and called for “substantial movement” from the bloc in order to seal a deal before the weekend is out.

“I don’t think we can keep going on at that pace without having some progress and some flexibility,” he told the BBC.

“Particularly from the UK side, we look at the differences on fairly key points of principle – fairly narrow in scope, we are talking about fisheries, level playing field commitments, the EU’s attempt to lock us in to their rules – we need to see substantial movement.”

UK chief negotiator Lord Frost and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, will reconvene in Brussels on Thursday to begin their final push to salvage what has been almost a year of wrangling over a trade deal.

After the leaders’ three-hour dinner, a Number 10 source said it was unclear whether the divide between Brussels and the UK could be bridged.

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