The UK Chairman of Bloodstock sales group Goffs, Henry Beeby, has warned MPs that allowing a no-deal Brexit to occur will have adverse effects on the breeding and racing industries in the UK.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed deal suffered an overwhelming defeat in the House of Commons on Tuesday, which has dented hopes for a secure future in the industry.
Horse racing is currently a part of the tripartite agreement between France, Ireland and the UK which facilitates the free movement of horses between the three countries.
If the UK were to leave the European Union with no deal, the deal would cease to exist, and the movement of horses would be hindered significantly.
Not only would thoroughbreds face numerous quarantine checks at the borders, but there would likely be significant delays in their transfer – which ultimately will have knock-on effects for the welfare of the animals.
The lack of clarity over the single market, more specifically free movement around Europe, could have a significant impact on bloodstock traders such as Goffs.
Beeby told The Racing Post: “The members of parliament in the House of Commons, to a man and woman, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for leaving the country in such a complete and utter state of disarray
“A no-deal scenario could be very detrimental for the racing and breeding industry, certainly in the short to medium term. The racing and breeding authorities in Britain, Ireland and France have in place arrangements to replace the Tripartite agreement but that hasn’t got political agreement.
“In the long term the free movement of horses should be able to continue, but it creates uncertainty in the short term and could be very damaging.”
Beeby warned that the future of traders may no longer be in the UK, revealing the possibility of relocating elsewhere in the European Union.
He added: “At Goffs and Goffs UK we rely on the free movement of horses between Britain and Ireland for a whole range of sales on both sides of the Irish Sea. It could be very disruptive in the short and maybe medium term and we would be deeply concerned from our point of view, and for the wider racing and breeding population.
“The only thing we can do at Goffs is look at what we have rather than what might happen. We have an auction house in England and Ireland so there may be scenarios where we have to shuffle the sales and certain categories at an alternative venue, but the problem with all of this is a lack of clarity. We just don’t know what to plan for.”
Wednesday’s vote, which resulted in May gaining confidence in the house – albeit a small majority – has meant that the government has opened a cross-party consultation to form a new brexit plan. The new strategy could have a number of knock-on effects, all of which provide no clarity for stakeholders in the UK racing industry.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) released a statement following the vote on Tuesday night, preempting further uncertainty. It read: “British racing, through the cross-industry Brexit Steering Group, which is chaired by the TBA and includes representation from the BHA and Weatherbys, has been preparing for a range of outcomes and remains in dialogue with government.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely and detailed guidance for participants around planning for the various scenarios has been posted on the BHA website.”
The potential for a no-deal brexit raises significant concerns for Gibraltar-based bookmakers and their ability to maintain continued access to betting markets in the EU.
Leaving without a deal would leave bookmakers without access to free-trade. However, as a number of those based in Gibraltar have bases in Malta, it can be assumed that most will relocate their businesses as soon as possible.