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Bonfire night may be on the way, but the country could do without political fireworks

We might be marking the 1605 Gunpowder Plot in a few days, but our democracy could do without quite so many political fireworks, says TFA chief executive George Dunn.

Fireworks, like Brexit, divide the nation.

 

As the third deadline for completing our Article 50 negotiations goes off like a damp squib, the arms of those raised in anticipated celebration will slowly fall, while others will be releasing their heads from the grip of their hands in the absence of the feared big bang.

 

However, in its place we will surely have a lively display of heat and light leading to our next decision day on December 12.

 

Those MPs hoping to return to the green benches will scuttle off to prepare their individual displays for re-election in their constituencies.

 

The irony is that the new Withdrawal Agreement, finalised between the UK and EU on October 19, did, for a brief period, have its moment in the sky as the legislation which would have allowed it to continue to shine was given a Second Reading.

 

Crackles

 

So, when the crackles, bangs, whistles and screams of the election campaign subside, where next for Brexit?

 

Boris Johnson will be hoping not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor to end up with an even more divided elected chamber.

 

Much will depend on the extent to which the Brexit Party steals sufficient votes from Conservative candidates to allow other parties to finish first past the post.

 

However, a Tory majority would seem to provide the mandate for the completion of the necessary legislation based on the recently agreed withdrawal settlement for an EU exit at the end of January.

 

Extend

 

If Jeremy Corbyn gets into Downing Street, he will look to extend the Article 50 period and hope the EU would look favourably on negotiating a third Withdrawal Agreement, which will be subject to a second referendum with remain on the ballot paper.

 

A Liberal Democrat Government, perhaps with the support of the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the non-Unionist Northern Ireland MPs, will pull the plug on our negotiations altogether and keep the UK in the European Union.

 

Whoever ends up making the journey to Buckingham Palace will be hoping there is nothing in the old Victorian superstitions around Friday the 13th.

 

Even if there is a clear winner this time around, Christmas and New Year celebrations will delay things further, so it will not be until early January that we see some clarity on the way ahead.

 

Reality

 

If, and it is a big if, our exit from the EU on January 31 becomes a reality, under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement we will only have 11 months to negotiate our future relationship with the EU, including a much needed free-trade agreement required for the future success of our agricultural industry.

 

The last 40 months has seen much activity but little progress – this must not be allowed to continue.

 

As we mark with our sparklers and rockets the failure of the 1605 plot to blow up Parliament and the King, let us hope the stability of our representative democracy will be restored soon for the benefit of us all.

 

George can be found tweeting at @georgewdunn


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