The UK has secured approval to continue exporting animals and animal products to the EU if it leaves without a withdrawal agreement on October 31.

The move will provide some certainty for a market worth more than £5 billion a year.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers confirmed that EU member states have granted the UK ‘national listed status’, which ensures exports of live animals and products of animal origin, such as meat, fish and dairy, can continue.

The move recognises the UK’s high biosecurity and animal health standards and will bring welcome clarity to the country’s world-leading farmers and food producers.

Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers, said: "This is good news for UK businesses. It demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health which we will continue to maintain and improve after we leave the EU.

"If you or your business import or export animal and animal products, we want to make sure you are ready for Brexit. Our guidance sets out what you need to do to continue to trade after we leave the EU.

Our top priority remains to deliver Brexit by the end of October, and our preference is to do that with a negotiated deal, but it is the job of a responsible Government to ensure we are ready to leave without a deal and without any further pointless delay.

The EU’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed confirmed the acceptance of the UK’s listed status on Friday (October 11) after it met the health and biosecurity assurances required for a third country.

However, if we leave without a deal, businesses exporting animals and animal products to the EU will still need to meet new requirements - such as going through the correct EU Border Inspection Post.

Businesses will also require an Export Health Certificate, which will need to be signed by a certifier such as an Official Veterinarian.