Brexit: the only way is out

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ARM­ING or­gan­i­sa­tions are ad­just­ing— with a mix of prag­ma­tism, dis­may and relief that the wait­ing is over—to Theresa May’s clar­i­fi­ca­tion that Bri­tain will exit the sin­gle mar­ket.

‘Farming un­der­pins the UK’S big­gest man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor,’ re­minds NFU Pres­i­dent Meurig Ray­mond. ‘It’s so im­por­tant that we have as fair a deal as pos­si­ble, with un­fet­tered ac­cess into the Euro­pean mar­ket.’

The Na­tional Pig As­so­ci­a­tion has iden­ti­fied three pri­or­i­ties: ac­cess to EU labour, tar­iff-free ex­ports to the EU mar­ket and en­sur­ing that im­ports ad­here to wel­fare stan­dards.

‘We un­der­stand why im­mi­gra­tion is a priority, but we fear se­ri­ous un­in­tended con­se­quences if pol­i­tics tri­umphs over eco­nomic re­al­ity,’ warns chief ex­ec­u­tive Zoe Davies. ‘And it’s es­sen­tial

Fthat new trade ar­range­ments, for ex­am­ple with the USA, do not re­sult in the UK be­ing flooded with cheaper meat pro­duced to lower stan­dards than per­mit­ted here.’

The Na­tional Sheep As­so­ci­a­tion is dis­mayed. ‘The Gov­ern­ment is tak­ing away our big­gest ex­port mar­ket with no clear plan for how to re­place it,’ says Joanne Briggs. ‘We feel the wider im­pli­ca­tions have not been con­sid­ered, as the eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity of sheep farms also brings pub­lic goods. If you take away the end mar­ket, you risk the whole struc­ture.’

Tom Hind of the Agri­cul­ture & Hor­ti­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment Board says that, al­though clar­ity about ‘the di­rec­tion of travel is wel­come’, Mrs May’s state­ment about ‘no [EU] deal be­ing bet­ter than a bad deal’ means ‘there is still mas­sive un­cer­tainty, given just how im­por­tant the EU mar­ket is for many sec­tors, such as lamb’. Dis­ap­point­ment is the pre­dom­i­nant feel­ing for those at the Soil As­so­ci­a­tion, with di­rec­tor of in­no­va­tion Tom Macmil­lan stat­ing that ‘the Prime Min­is­ter’s vi­sion for post-brexit Bri­tain made al­most no mention of food and farming, even though they are fun­da­men­tal to hu­man health, the fu­ture of our pre­cious coun­try­side and wildlife, and are our largest man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try.’

CLA Pres­i­dent Ross Mur­ray has called for cau­tion in bal­anc­ing op­por­tu­nity against risk in trade agree­ments. He says: ‘We wel­come the Prime Min­is­ter’s re­as­sur­ances about avoid­ing eco­nomic cliff edges. Get­ting the im­ple­men­ta­tion phase right will be crit­i­cal to the liveli­hoods of farm­ers and the fu­ture of ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.’ KG

Prime movers: there are fears that trade deals with the USA may flood the UK with cheap meat

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