MEP Vicky Ford says G’s boss John Shropshire warned he will move HQ from Fens to continent if Britain votes to leave the EU

MEP Vicky Ford at G's

MEP Vicky Ford at G's - Credit: Archant

MEP Vicky Ford claims G’s of Ely – Europe’s largest salad grower- will move their headquarters out of Cambridgeshire to the continent if Britain votes to leave the EU.

MEP Vicky Ford at G's

MEP Vicky Ford at G's - Credit: Archant

Mrs Ford said the company employs 5,000-6,000 people “and being in the Single Market helps them to deliver lower prices and more choice for consumers”.

Her comments were posted on her Facebook page after she addressed over 120 staff and suppliers from G’s Fresh at their training and social centre on the Barway site at Ely.

Also present to tackle questions was Liz Truss, MP for SW Norfolk and Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Mrs Ford wrote on her Facebook page – that has nearly 1,600 ‘likes’- after last Thursday meeting.

MEP Vicky Ford at G's

MEP Vicky Ford at G's - Credit: Archant

She said that G’s boss John Shropshire “told staff he would need to move HQ to the continent if UK leaves Single Market”.

Quizzed by one of her followers why G’s would move she added: “because if we leave the Single Market as Leave campaign say there are likely to be added taxes and tariffs on movement of goods.”

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She also said there were restrictions on produce from outside the EU.

“G’s are also the largest salad grower in Spain and Poland supplying supermarkets all over Europe,” she wrote.

“The company boss says they need to able to move goods “

Tackled by one questioner about the number of migrant workers employed by G’s and the allegation “the locals can’t even get work there as they have all been under cut” Mrs Ford was quick to rebut the charge.

“G’s also employ many hundreds of locals and those are largely the higher paid roles,” she said.

G’s is one of Europe’s largest producers of salads. Farming in excess of 4,000 hectares across East Anglia, and with farms and production facilities located throughout the UK, Spain, Czech Republic, USA - G’s employs nearly 6,000 people across Europe with around half of those jobs at home in the UK. Exports to the EU are worth around £3 million a year to G’s.

John Shropshire, chairman of G’s said: “Since its formation in 1992, the EU Single Market has helped to abolish more red tape than any national government could.

“It was championed by Margaret Thatcher: clumsy national tariffs and regulations were swept away, the movement of goods, capital, services and food products were liberated, and the benefits to the consumer and businesses have been legion.

“Our harvest machinery can be used throughout the whole continent, without modification, expensive border checks and mountains of paper work; and, our produce can be sold to consumers across the whole continent, thanks to the harmonisation of standards throughout Europe.

“These Single Market innovations, together with outstanding European motorway networks, have kept our produce much fresher and higher quality without the need for air freight. The substantially reduced supply chain costs have continuously cut the retail price of healthy fresh produce over the past thirty years to the huge benefit of consumers.”

Mr Shropshire said a trade deal with the Single Market would be years in the making, and in the meantime, British agri-food businesses would suffer a 12 per cent import tariff, under World Trade Organisation rules.

“Do we really want our businesses and consumers on the wrong side of that?” he said.

“Brexit would be no victory for liberty or democracy: it would shatter the progress made in Europe towards freedom, prosperity and peace over the last 60 years.

“It would isolate Britain in an uncertain world, and it would play havoc with our food and farming industries, which have gained so much from an era of continental harmony, openness and cooperation and extraordinary benefit to consumers.”

Ms Truss said: “Since 1973 the British economy has grown faster than France, Germany and the US, bringing us prosperity. A messy divorce would take years to resolve, risking jobs, security and the future opportunities of our children.”

Mrs Ford added: “Today in our shops and supermarkets we can buy fresh produce grown in the UK and all across Europe.

“Europe’s single market allows growers to move produce easily and cheaply with little bureaucracy. This gives us as consumers lower prices and more choices. “Unless a new trade deal is negotiated producers and consumers will see added customs tariffs and taxes on food. We have no idea how long a new trade deal will take to negotiate or what it will look like. “

Gs have farms in East Anglia, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Dorset, Sussex and Kent.