Union man’s fears over no deal Brexit

Farm­ers’ of­fi­cial reck­ons prospect is‘ ter­ri­fy­ing’

The Galloway News - - FARMING - STEPHEN NOR­RIS

The Lochfoot man lead­ing the Na­tional Farm­ers Union of Scot­land has warned of the “ter­ri­fy­ing” prospect of a no deal Brexit.

NFUS pres­i­dent An­drew McCor­nick re­jected sug­ges­tions the UK should walk away from Europe if MPs throw out Theresa May’s EU With­drawal Bill next week.

Speak­ing dur­ing a live broad­cast on Mon­day, Mr McCor­nick warned against con­fronting Europe.

He said: “That would be like press­ing the nu­clear but­ton to see if it works or not. It’s quite a ter­ri­fy­ing thought just to walk away and make them come to us.

“We are deal­ing with a coun­try the UK, a mem­ber with 66 mil­lion peo­ple and we are step­ping away from 500 mil­lion peo­ple, our mar­ket.

“Why are they go­ing to think this 66 mil­lion peo­ple is worth de­stroy­ing the rest of what they are do­ing?

“They are go­ing to stick to­gether on this – they are go­ing to say this is what we have of­fered you.

“When I am across in Brus­sels, I hear them re­fer­ring to [Brexit] as a self–in­flicted wound and ‘it’s up to you to sort it’.

“It doesn’t mean we should not go over there and ne­go­ti­ate but to ac­cept that we should just press the but­ton and see what hap­pens, I don’t think that’s right.”

The Scot­tish farm­ers’ leader added: “This with­drawal bill is sit­ting on the ta­ble and there’s sup­posed to be a mean­ing­ful vote next Tues­day.

“The out­come will de­ter­mine where we go from here.

“We are very much on a watch­ing brief at NFU Scot­land on this.”

Mr McCor­nick’s com­ments came ahead of an NFU Scot­land re­gional hus­tings in Cas­tle Dou­glas on Jan­uary 14. Three can­di­dates con­test­ing two vice–pres­i­dent posts will ad­dress NFUS mem­bers.

Cur­rent vice–pres­i­dent Martin Kennedy, live­stock chair­man Char­lie Adam and com­bin­able crops chair­man Ian Sands will set out their stall in the Erne­spie House Ho­tel at 7pm. Urg­ing mem­bers to at­tend the hus­tings, Mr McCor­nick said: “It is an ex­tremely un­cer­tain time for Scot­tish agri­cul­ture.

“There has never been a more im­por­tant time for mem­bers to get out to these hus­tings, lis­ten to the can­di­dates and make sure their vote counts.

“All three can­di­dates have the skills and ex­pe­ri­ence to do a fan­tas­tic job for NFUS and Scot­tish agri­cul­ture.

“This is their op­por­tu­nity to con­vince mem­bers they have a role to play as we tackle the ma­jor chal­lenges ahead.”

He added: “With Brexit de­ci­sions loom­ing and fu­ture agri­cul­tural pol­icy in the UK and Scot­land up for de­bate, we need the right peo­ple in place to drive for­ward poli­cies that are in the very best in­ter­ests of our farm­ers and crofters.”

Vot­ing to elect the two vice– pres­i­dents will take place at the union’s coun­cil meet­ing at the Radis­son Blu Ho­tel in Glas­gow on Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary.

The AGM, con­fer­ence and an­nual din­ner will be staged at the same venue the pre­vi­ous day.

Con­cerns Lochfoot farmer An­drew McCor­nick spoke out dur­ing a live broad­cast on Mon­day

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