Cambridgeshire fudge company fear no-deal Brexit will affect jobs in the region
A Cambridgeshire confectionery company has warned that trade and jobs will be “damaged” if the UK is to leave the EU with a no-deal Brexit.
Fudge makers Calico Cottage, based in Haddenham, say that current uncertainty surrounding Brexit has led their European customers to look for alternative manufacturers.
It comes as earlier this week Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a five-week suspension to parliament in the run-up to the Brexit deadline of October 31.
Nigel Baker, chief executive of Calico Cottage, who is one of the UK's largest providers of fudge making equipment and ingredients, said "the damage has already been done".
Speaking to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire morning show host Kev Lawrence yesterday (August 29), Mr Baker said: "European companies are already looking for alternative suppliers because they need certainty of price and certainly of supply and we cannot promise that.
"Instead they are deciding to source it locally if they can.
"We don't get that business back in a hurry so it's being lost."
Mr Baker went on to say that he has written to local MP and Brexit secretary Steve Barclay on five occasions.
In mid-June Mr Barclay sent round an assistant who spent more than two hours looking at one set of forms.
Mr Baker wrote a letter and invited his MP to "try filling out the following form which is the government's 'easy path to exporting to Norway'.
"It's time consuming, HMRC is unhelpful and it costs a fortune to get the paperwork done," he stated in the letter.
"If this is your best model for Brexit try it yourself and then maybe even you and your Brexiters will think again."
He added: "Voters like me find ourselves with no political home."
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would suddenly lose tariff-free access to some markets and would have to trade under worldwide rules.
The European Union (EU) has about 40 free trade deals, covering more than 70 countries.
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Mr Baker continued in his BBC interview: "We invited Steve Barclay in because we want a decision from a position of knowledge about tariffs.
"But then we had a letter from HRMC [who are responsible for tax collection] who don't know what to do and it appears that the government are asking them and then they are asking the government, so what hope do we have as manufacturers?
"Tariff free trade is essential otherwise you are just pricing yourself out of the market more and that will have a knock on effect on jobs in this region," Mr Baker added.
"Just the transaction costs alone are huge, about £100 per shipment and a 20 to 25 per cent tariff is the way it is looking.
"Someone will have to absorb that in the supply chain; either the consumers, the retailers, the manufacturers or a combination of the three.
"We need to talk to them to work out a deal to spread some of that."
Calico Cottage employs 50 people has been trading since 1964 making bespoke fudge, confectionery and chocolate.