The country must now unite behind a single Brexit plan to ensure a successful exit from the EU, says Yorkshire mixed farmer Olivia Richardson.
When considering what angle to take for this article, I asked my father what he would want to read in tomorrow’s news about Brexit, what would be the one thing that caught his attention and made him read on.
The answer? That the Government listened to non-biased agricultural organisations, focused more on food production to make Britain increasingly self-sufficient where possible while ensuring a healthier, greener environment, rather than the environment being the main drive behind Defra Secretary Michael Gove’s plans.
Or something along those lines, with a few alternative expressions.
With Brexit negotiations continuing and now talk of an agreement being settled by November, we, the general public, are still are completely in the dark about how our future and that of our next generations will look.
On Wednesday, the Agriculture Bill had its second reading in parliament.
The NFU urged the Government to make the Bill truly agricultural with deputy president Guy Smith saying food production must be at its heart, with a clear and overarching focus on productive farming.
I think we as farmers can all agree on that – we need to be productive and reduce volatility factors within our industry.
The Chequers plan to bring all EU laws into the UK post-March 2019 – is that what we voted for when deciding to leave or did we vote for making our own laws, clarifying our own rules and regulations?
Or was the problem that none of us knew what we were voting for?
And with the likelihood of a no-deal scenario still relatively high, what will that bring us?
Difficulties with manufacturing and marketing fertilisers, access to animal medicines, food origin labelling, exporting animals/animal products, upholding our welfare and environmental standards – it all looks very bleak if you think too hard.
So what is stopping the UK from coming to an agreeable deal with the EU? They say that 99 per cent of Brexit is already determined, but that 1 per cent remaining is a huge sticking point, and that revolves around the Irish border.
Speaking in Brussels this week, Michel Barnier stated that the EU rules are very clear and they must increase their phytosanitary checks on live animals and other agricultural products at the border from 10 per cent to 100 per cent, meaning a significant challenge in the terms of scale.
But the DUP are very likely to decline this proposal and have said they will use their crucial commons votes against any deal that differentiates N.I. from the rest of the UK. So we are back to a stale mate.
The likelihood of coming out of the single market and customs union with a ‘Good Deal’ seems non-existent at the present, but what I am certain of is that we all need to stop calling Chequers ‘Theresa May’s plan’ and start owning one direction as ‘Britain’s Plan’.
Olivia can be found tweeting at @_livrichardson