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Grape expectations: NI only part of UK that can make wine with EU produce post-Brexit


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Northern Ireland will have a unique position among post-Brexit wine producers

Northern Ireland will have a unique position among post-Brexit wine producers

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Labour MP Neil Coyle.

Labour MP Neil Coyle.

Northern Ireland will have a unique position among post-Brexit wine producers

NORTHERN Ireland will be the only part of the UK where you can make wine with EU-grown grapes after Brexit.

When the so-called transition period ends on December 31 this year, wineries in Great Britain will no longer be allowed to make wine with grapes imported from the remaining 27 member states.

However, due to Northern Ireland's unique position post-Brexit wine producers, if they are based here, will still be allowed to buy grapes from the continent.

The new regulations were revealed in a parliamentary question to George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) by Labour MP Neil Coyle.

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Labour MP Neil Coyle.

Labour MP Neil Coyle.

Labour MP Neil Coyle.

In an answer provided by Defra junior minister Victoria Prentis, she said: "UK-produced wine has a growing international reputation and the government is committed to supporting a thriving UK wine industry.

"After the transition period, the effect of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act means it will not be possible to use grapes from third countries (including those from the EU) for the purpose of producing wine in Great Britain.

"It will continue to be possible to use grapes from EU countries for the purpose of producing wine in Northern Ireland.

"During the transition period, production of wine in the UK from grapes imported from the EU is permitted. This period allows GB operators time to adapt their practices in readiness for our departure from the single market and customs union.

"The government will keep the rules on the production and marketing of wine under review."

Speaking to Sunday Life Mr Coyle, who opposed Brexit, said the different rules on wine production in Northern Ireland and Great Britain is "problematic on many levels".

"The leave campaign said they would be protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom, when actually Defra's policy looks set to inhibit Great Britain while Northern Ireland remains separate," he said.

"It is small but it is a growing and significant sector, the majority of the producers are in the south east of England and Kent in particular. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association is in my constituency and it is instituting an inquiry into policy post-Brexit, in particularly affecting the wine industry.

"Instead of just making it harder to import wine from Australia or the Americas, it will become harder to import wine from anywhere and there are lots of other issues in there including grapes.

"There is an increasingly well established and respected wine growing sector in the UK but it has faced very difficult problems in cold winters and there has been the need to use grapes from elsewhere, it wouldn't take too much of a cold winter for the need to import more. Having laws that prevent that happening could, with two cold winters, we would no longer have an industry.

"I hope Defra sees sense and realise this is more damaging than it acknowledges so far and there is still a window in which to correct this."

Sunday Life