Supermarkets have lined up to criticise the government’s suggestion they should be stockpiling food in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.
Several have given their backing to the British Retail Consortium after the trade association, which represents 70% of the industry, hit out at the idea.
It follows interventions by Prime Minister Theresa May and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who acknowledged Britain will have to ensure there are adequate food supplies if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
On Wednesday, Mr Rabb promised to “look at this issue” to make sure food supplies remained “adequate”.
He added that it was “wrong to describe it as the government doing the stockpiling”.
Questioned on the same day, Mrs May said “this is not just about stockpiling” and that people should take “reassurance and comfort” from the preparations for no deal.
But multiple high street supermarkets have told Sky News they endorse the response from the BRC, which claimed stockpiling food was “not a practical response”.
The statement added: “Industry has not been approached by government to begin planning for this.
“Retailers do not have the facilities to house stockpiled goods and in the case of fresh produce, it is simply not possible to do so.
“Our food supply chains are extremely fragile and this is yet further demonstration of the need for an agreement on the backstop to ensure frictionless trade is maintained after the 29 March 2019.”
The warnings from ministers come ahead of a reported plan by Downing Street to keep up interventions cautioning about no deal for the rest of the summer.
Mrs May has insisted that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, and that extensive planning and funding has gone into preparing for a cliff-edge divorce with the EU.
Brussels says a deal needs to be reached by the autumn to allow the EU27’s parliaments time to debate and sign-off on the final plan, before the official expected Brexit day of March 29 2019.