Northern Ireland’s food and drink industry – which employs over 70,000 people – will be better off inside a reformed European Union, the Prime Minister said this week at an event held at Downing Street.
The event, part of the GREAT Britain campaign to drive UK exports, saw leading food and drink companies from across the UK, including Echlinville Distillery from Co Down, show off their best produce.
The Echlinville Distillery became Northern Ireland’s first licenced distillery in more than 125 years distilling its first spirit in 2013. Nestled in the grounds of the historic Echlinville Estate in the Ards Peninsula in County Down, Echlinville produces high-quality premium whiskey, gin and vodka. Over 50 per cent of the distillery’s exports go to the EU.
Nationally, exports to the EU from the UK’s food and drink industry made £11 billion for the UK economy last year – and the Prime Minister warned that this could be put at risk if the UK votes to leave the European Union on 23 June.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Today I was proud to host some of the finest food and drink producers from across Britain. Their products are popular not just here but across Europe and many of them do significant amounts of trade with the continent. But leaving the EU will rob them of the level playing field and the free access to trade that they currently have.
“As we get closer to 23 June and this crucially important referendum, I hope people will focus on what as a country we will get out of staying in a reformed EU and what the costs could be of taking a leap into the dark and choosing to go out on our own. We know that Britain’s families will be poorer if we left – losing out on £4,300 a year.”