‘This started with Brexit!’ Sainsbury’s boss hits out at EU exit for soaring food bills

Former Sainsbury's boss says Brexit to blame for food costs

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Justin King, the former boss of Sainsbury’s, has pinpointed Britain’s exit from the European Union as the cause of the current cost of living pressures being felt by British shoppers. Amid a rise in the cost of food, Mr King believes that problems with trade between the UK and Europe since Brexit, as shown by the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol, were playing a role. He went on to list Covid and the war in Ukraine as other factors which were worsening the cost of living crisis. 

Mr King told Sky News: “I mean the current pressures started with Brexit.

“You’re talking about the Prime Minister going to Northern Ireland today, the problems at the border in the Irish Sea, of course, are the reality in good part in the border with many of our trading partners.

“Well in excess of 40 percent of our food comes from Europe, so it started with Brexit.

“Covi exacerbated the problems and of course, the war in Ukraine in particular impact is having on certain commodities, wheat and oil in particular, and one can obviously see that that will be long lasting and significant in its impact.

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It comes after a Government minister said on Monday that people struggling during the cost-of-living crisis should consider taking on more hours at work or moving to a better-paid job

Rachel Maclean, safeguarding minister in the Home Office, admitted the idea would not work for all households, but said the solution for some people could be to look for additional work.

The comments come against a backdrop of soaring inflation, rising energy bills and high prices at the petrol pumps.

Ms Maclean told Sky News: “I think what we need to focus on now is over the long-term.

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“We do have these short-term pressures on us that we’re all aware of.

“But over the long-term we need to have a plan to grow the economy and make sure that people are able to protect themselves better, whether that is by taking on more hours or moving to a better-paid job.

“These are long-term actions but that is what we are focused on as a Government.”

Ms Maclean said she was not “suggesting for one moment” that such an option would work for everyone.

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But she said those with extra capacity could visit job centres to apply for either more hours or better rewarded employment.

She added: “It may be right for some people, they may be able to access additional hours, but, of course, it is not going to work for people who are already in three jobs.

“That’s why we need to have the other measures, such as all the help we are putting into schools, the help with the local authorities … and that’s where we are going to target help to where it is most needed.”

Downing Street has said there was no “one-size-fits-all” approach that would help every household.

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