Our local community has been 'London's larder' for a century - with Borough Market having been on the south side of London Bridge for a thousand years and with biscuit, jam, canned foods and more all produced locally for generations. Now local breweries, a gin distillery and new markets are popping up from Maltby Street to Mercato Metropolitano on Newington Causeway. Our area remains the beating heart of the food and drink sector - providing thousands of jobs as well as first rate leisure and entertainment venues.
On the 21st November I am holding a Bermondsey Food and Drink reception in Parliament to celebrate our local thriving industry. I hope it will be a great opportunity for MPs, peers and anyone working in Westminster to see some of our fine local products like ales from Southwark Brewery and souvlaki from Maltby & Greek. If you'd like to host a stall or are a constituent interesting in attending then please let me know by emailing me at: Neil.Coyle.MP@parliament.uk
Sadly, however, it’s not all celebrations. The referendum result and Brexit negotiations are providing significant uncertainty. Yesterday, Environment Secretary (and one of the Leave campaigners) Andrea Leadsom MP, had an opportunity in front of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee to clear up this uncertainty and present the Government strategy for this crucial sector.
Unsurprisingly, and in a similar fashion to other Brexit and Leave Ministers in this shambolic Tory Government, she failed to address any concerns or outline any plan. 'Taking back control' was an empty slogan from the empty heads of the Leave campaign. The loss of control experienced by local businesses trying to grapple with Brexit uncertainty is considerably damaging and needs urgently addressing.
By failing to present any coherent thinking to the committee, the Environment Secretary has contributed to further instability for the food and drink sector which generates over £77 billion every year and employs millions across the country. The Government needs to act fast to reassure the industry that jobs will be safe, trade will not become prohibitively expensive and that consumers won’t be hit with higher prices for life's essentials.