Adrian Bridge: ‘Election 2019 won’t solve Brexit crisis’

A senior member of the wine trade has criticised the UK government’s decision to hold a general election in December, arguing that it won’t break the Brexit deadlock.

Adrian Bridge on the building site of Fladgate’s €100 million tourist attraction, The World of Wine.

Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, told the drinks business that the election was likely to result in another hung parliament, incapable of reaching a consensus on the obviously divisive issue of the UK’s EU membership.

“I think that the democratic way to break the deadlock is another referendum as opposed to an election,” said Bridge.

“A referendum is specific to the question of Brexit. A general election will be about domestic politics. The issue will boil down to trust and Boris Johnson has provided ample examples of how he cannot be trusted (not only since being PM but for years before).”

Bridge also opined that the election would suffer from a low voter turnout, increasing the probability of no party winning an overall majority.

“I strongly believe that most people will not worry too much about the election and a low turnout will happen. The Prime Minister only wants a general election to get his hard line no-deal Brexit through and this will be bad for business if it happens.”

According to CGA Strategy, sales of Port in the UK on-trade continue to decline. In the 12 months to September 2019, value sales fell by over 14%, while volumes fell by 17.5%.

The total fortified category, despite the hype about a sherry revival, continues to struggle in the UK market, as consumers increasingly shun fortified styles.

Yet Christmas is traditionally a period when Port sales show a dramatic uplift, although Bridge conceded that he was deeply concerned about the future of the category in the UK, particularly if the government elects to leave without a trade deal.

“A poorer Britain will mean that discretionary spending will fall and so we will sell less. Supermarkets will react by changing their ranges and may see Port as a seasonal listing (Christmas) with occasional promotional periods (Easter & Fathers’ Day) which will damage Port,” said Bridge.

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