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From the editor: The EU doesn't hate the UK, it just wants us to hurry up

God bless Brexit when you are in a room full of European journalists, because at least you know the conversation will never flag.


Ben   Briggs

Ben   Briggs

Between our country’s lurch away from Brussels and Donald Trump’s bombastic style of presidency, there was much to keep the debate going during the Agribex trade fair, Brussels, I attended earlier in December.

 

And outside the bubble of political aficionados obsessed by Brexit, the mood towards the UK was less antagonistic than I had expected.

 

Machinery traders were interested in our split from the EU, but it was not uppermost in their minds.

 

As one major manufacturer and exporter told me, ‘Brexit is on our desk, but farmers in the UK and elsewhere are not speaking to us about it’.

 

It might not quite be business as usual, but it is becoming clear the Brexit process could potentially rumble on for a decade or more before British farmers find their framework of support radically altered.


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Adopting such a long-term view is tough when large sections of the pro-remain national press hysterically declare each stage of the negotiations as a disaster, yet negotiations as massive as Brexit are not going to happen quickly, after all.

 

We must also not forget Europe needs the UK, not just the other way round.

 

There was tangible concern among some European commentators about what the Common Agricultural Policy will look like without the UK’s financial contribution, with some fearing certain countries were not in a position to properly make up the shortfall.

 

Brexit will not be easy or quick, but to be in Brussels was to be reminded of the bureaucratic mire competing member states are operating in as they seek, ultimately, to protect the interests of their own people under the umbrella of European idealism.

 

There is a whole world out there for the UK to trade with and what we need in 2018 is the political will to make it happen. Let’s hope in the last full year before Brexit, this is exactly what we do.

 

And finally - all the best for the New Year.

 

The first FG of 2018 is set to be a bumper edition, with a sheep and lambing special getting the year off to a hopeful start.

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