Trying to judge the mood of the British public can be a dangerous thing, as Theresa May found out to her cost in last week’s General Election. At the start of the campaign she appeared Thatcherite in her intentions of securing a large majority and mandate for Brexit.
The new Iron Lady. But as it unfolded and her appearances became more awkward, the campaign built on her personality crumbled spectacularly when it appeared she did not have one. Like any bad leader seemingly unwilling to tackle the issue which stared her in the face – Brexit – Mrs May delayed, and was punished accordingly.
Now the Government faces a new dawn with a reduced majority and diminished mandate for the negotiations ahead of them in Brussels. For some farmers the Westminster soap opera might seem like a world away from the daily realities of making a living from agriculture, but the delays this election has caused to Brexit talks are worrying.
Whether you want Brexit or not, the fact is officials need to get on with it and talks with EU mandarins must begin in earnest. Now is not the time for further delays. Instead, Government needs to go to Brussels with a clear set of demands for what it wants. During this process farming must be foremost in their thoughts.
No other sector has more to lose from a bad Brexit deal, yet no other sector is so crucial for the future stability of this country.
Farming unions and representatives must set out the industry’s requirements to Government and new Defra Secretary Michael Gove with far more forcefulness and clarity than they have since Article 50 was triggered in March, otherwise the Brexit clock will have ticked past the point of no return.
Ministers must be reminded that for all the issues they face with the NHS or schools, failure to support a viable farming system which produces the lifesource of any society – food – will be disastrous for all.
And finally... For the latest updates from Cereals 2017, make sure you check out next week’s Farmers Guardian and www.fginsight.com