With just five weeks to go until Brexit confusion still reigns over what businesses and consumers in Swindon can expect to face on January 1.

There are fears of lower food standards, higher prices and delivery problems, but also optimism for new opportunities on leaving the EU.

The Adver spoke to businesses and people in the town to see how they are getting ready for the departure.

On Facebook, readers were unsure as to what Brexit could mean.

Adrian Thrush summed up the confusion by saying: “Nobody knows for sure what will happen.

“Some predict the end of the world, some think we’ll end up in a utopian state and some, like me, think to the average man on the street not lot will change.”

Daniel Tiley, who runs Get Smart Energy Services, said: “I have no idea. Information for my business is less than pathetic and I keep seeing the phrase ‘more information will be released later in 2020’.”

And there is similar confusion in the agricultural industry.

Liz Webster, farms near Blunsdon, fears that trade deals with other countries could mean lower food standards. “We’re about to go into a period of huge instability. We’re going into the unknown," she said.

“Farmers feel slightly more relaxed that there won’t be an imminent American trade deal which was the real risk because of the aggressive American food market.

“We are hoping we get a deal with the EU so our products can move across to Europe but we’re resigned to accepting disruption. We’re not welcoming it at all. We’re being forced into a place where we’ll have to fight to survive.”

Liz, who founded the campaign group Save British Farming,

added: “Everything that was offered by Vote Leave has not been delivered in any sense. It was such a confusing campaign, they promised we’d remain in the single market and we’re now facing the hardest of Brexits at the very least or a no-deal.

“No-deal is unthinkable, it’s cataclysmic, particularly for food products. In my view, the people are not responsible for what is being delivered, the Vote Leave government are.

“Nobody voted for food price hikes and for quality to go down. I don’t think anybody voted for that. Nobody voted for the countryside to be eroded. People voted for a brighter future. It appears to me it’ll be a brighter future for anyone outside of Britain who is looking to buy up cheap assets.”

But Sonia Oliver, who runs Coleshill Organics, believes that people will be more likely to shop locally if the price of imported food goes up.

She said: “If Covid is anything to go by, which has seen our business double, I think people are going to realise that they absolutely need to support a local food industry rather than imports.

“Obviously there will always be something we need to import, like bananas, but supporting your local food producer during Covid has been paramount and I think it’ll be equally important during Brexit because we’re going to see huge disruptions at borders with food coming in and with prices rising because of managing tariffs.”

Because Sonia mainly sells fruit and vegetables, she is not as concerned about lower food standards.

She added: “I’ve never felt threatened by cheap food because it’s a completely different product.

“We’re vegetable growers so that will mainly impact processed foods and livestock. “If anything, I’m hoping it will refocus people’s minds on how important it is to have really rigorous food standards to protect our environment and children.

“I’ve always seen cheap food as a different product, it’s like chalk and cheese, we try and do what we can as the very best we can and we never have any surplus, we always sell what we make.”

Andrew Swift, managing director of Dutton Haulage based at Manor Farm House, believes customers could feel the Brexit impact and that international goods could take longer to arrive.

Andrew said: “I could see our customers suffering and maybe if we had to pay extra tariffs on lorries and lorry parts. There might be a 10 per cent tariff increase on lorries and nearly all lorries are imported.

“The actual transport and getting across the water is going to be more difficult, it’ll take longer and be less efficient. But if that’s the price worth paying then that’s up to the individual,” he said.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson sought to calm worries about trade with the UK. “Once we are outside of the the EU, we will have more control over a number of areas and will be able to take advantage of new markets overseas. With 90 per cent of future world growth coming outside Europe, this will create significant opportunities for business, along with the knock-on benefits this will have for consumers too.”

The UK was developing its own trade policy and pursuing free trade agreements that would cover 80 per cent of trade by 2022.

“Good progress is being made in securing trade deals around the world, including the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement which will see UK exporters enjoy tariff-free trade with Japan on 99 per cent of products.

“This deal alone has been estimated to increase UK-Japan trade by £15.7 billion.

“In addition, we have the prospect of Britain joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which represents dynamic markets worth 13 per cent of global GDP.

“Moreover, we will support British businesses through the UK Global Tariff, which has been specifically tailored to the needs of the UK economy.

“On top of this, the development of a network of UK Freeports is another exciting opportunity that our newly autonomous trade policy enables.

“As we recover from the economic impact of coronavirus, free trade will be central to creating growth opportunities for British businesses."