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From the editor: More clarity needed over Brexit debate

With the EU referendum drawing near, Ben Briggs discusses whether anyone really knows what the reality of the UK will be if we decided to leave the European Union.



"With less than three weeks to go until the EU referendum, the rhetoric on both sides of the debate has ratcheted up to almost deafening levels.


"But as claims and counter-claims grow louder, it seems no-one is any better informed than when the campaigns began and it seems voters of all persuasions lurch towards the ballot box with a lot of opinion, but few facts, upon which to make a monumental decision.


"One elderly farmer told me with apparent certainty this week that if we came out of Europe, the UK Government would inevitably subsidise agriculture, because ‘no Government would let this country be flooded with imports’.


"Maybe he knew something I did not, but the current willingness of politicians to see cheap lamb, beef and dairy hit UK shelves did not auger well for his view of a post-Brexit country.


"The reality is, however, neither he nor anyone else knows what the reality would be if we came out of Europe.


"Those wanting to leave suggest farming would continue to be supported, yet those making the claims are not currently in charge of their political parties or, when pressed, can reveal what the support package would look like.


"It is a similar situation for those wanting to remain and their warnings that trade with the EU and elsewhere would be decimated. The problem with this is they cannot prove it either way.


"Just as when European agriculture found itself weakened as a result of Russia’s trade ban on western products because of its political stand-off over Ukraine, our farmers could once again be damaged by political infighting and posturing.


"Whether a stronger Prime Minister would have avoided calling an EU referendum is up for debate, but now it draws near, it seems farming is once again being kicked around in a game of political football.


"Come June 23, whichever way the vote goes, we have to ensure farming is not betrayed by political infighting and instability in the long-term."

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