A no-deal Brexit could threaten the future of a firm lunchtime favourite, a leading figure in the multi-billion pound sandwich industry has warned.
Jim Winship, from the British Sandwich Association, said there could be “serious problems” with importing the fresh ingredients needed if there are severe delays at UK ports.
“I don’t think it means absolutely no sandwiches,” he told BBC Newsnight.
But added: “It’s going to limit the amount of choice consumers have if we suddenly crash out in a Brexit in the way it’s being talked about.”
Pro-Brexit Conservative MP Marcus Fysh said the warning was “completely wrong” and “truly ludicrous”.
Fysh said: “I think silly season has obviously started a bit early this year. There is no suggestion whatsoever that imports from the EU will be limited by our new trade arrangement.”
He added on Twitter: “Project fear just got very silly indeed and people won’t fall for this nonsense.”
Francis Grove-White, the deputy director of the pro-Remain Open Britain think-tank which backs a referendum on the eventual deal, said Brexit was “turning out to be jam-packed with nasty surprises”.
“Now it looks like the great British sandwich could be toast if the Brextremists get their way,” he said in an excruciatingly pun-heavy statement.
“With the Brexit on offer looking increasingly stale, and with the Government’s plans going aw-rye, we need a People’s Vote on Brexit so the public can decide whether or not the crumby deal on offer is good enough.”
Brits currently consume about 4bn sandwiches every year and according to the British Sandwich Association, the number grows at a steady 2% – or 80 million – each year.
The sandwich is the long-standing core of the UK’s £20bn food-to-go industry, which is the largest and most advanced in Europe.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said the government is making sure there will be “adequate food supplies” after the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Winship said importing enough fresh tomatoes, lettuce and avocados would be a particular problem.
“There would be serious problems in terms of some of the fresh ingredients we bring in from the EU and from overseas, particularly if we have problems at the ports,” he said.
“They are all fresh and don’t have a very long shelf-life and we don’t have a chance of stockpiling fresh ingredients.”
The warning came amid concerns at Dover District Council that the M20 motorway could have to be turned into a 13-mile long lorry park for many years after Brexit.
Documents seen by Sky News suggest a permanent solution to deal with increased customs checks at the border could not be in place until 2023 at the earliest.