Tesco stockpiling food in case of shortages as it prepares for no-deal Brexit

Britain’s biggest supermarkets are stockpiling food amid fears that Boris Johnson will fail to strike a post-Brexit trade deal.  Ahead of make-or-break talks in Brussels, the PM accused the European Union of insisting on terms “no prime minister could accept”.  It prompted Tesco’s boss to warn the supermarket giant was hoarding non-fresh food as it prepared for “the worst-case scenario”.  Time is running out to strike a trade deal and without one the UK lapses onto damaging World Trade Organisation terms after December 31.  It would mean quotas and tariffs which could drive up the prices of goods including food and medicines.  The PM told the Commons “a good deal is still there to be done” ahead of jetting off for dinner with Brussels chief Ursula von der Leyen.  But he said the EU was seeking an “automatic right” to retaliate against the UK if its standards diverged from theirs.  And he also suggested Brussels could reject the UK having sovereign control over its fishing waters after Brexit.  Mr Johnson was served steamed turbot, along with mashed potatoes along with wasabi and vegetables, in a nod to the ongoing dispute.  Government sources suggested that the most likely outcome of the crisis meeting was that negotiators would resume talks in the coming days.  However, it was unclear whether the PM was determined to compromise to get a deal – or has already decided to call the whole thing off.  There were concerns that the Brexit talks drama could drag on past Christmas – with the pair unlikely to seal the deal last night.  Cabinet minister Michael Gove claimed Brussels would have to compromise if it wanted to reach a deal.  But in reality, the UK would also have to budge on key issues of fishing rights, business competition rules and how the deal will be policed.  Tesco chairman John Allan warned that leaving the bloc without a trade deal could mean empty supermarket shelves and price rises.  He said: “We are trying to ensure that we have stockpiled as much as we can of non-live product either in our own warehouses or with our suppliers.  “If we leave on a no-deal basis there will be tariffs, and those tariffs can be quite substantial on some food items.”  Ports like Dover, Felixstowe and Southampton could face severe delays caused by a surge in imports and complex new border checks.  Soaring freight costs could be passed on to British consumers.  But Mr Allan claimed the gaps on supermarket shelves would be temporary and warned shoppers not to panic buy.  “We may see some shortages of fresh foods, particularly short-life fresh foods,” he said.  “I think that will only be for a limited period, perhaps a month or two, before we get back to normal.  “I don’t think there is any reason at all for any consumer to panic or panic buy at the moment.  “There is still going to be plenty of food in the UK – there may just be slightly restricted choice for a period of time.”  Food prices could go up an average 3-5% while tariffs on imported dairy pr

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