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Political drama in Westminster is likely to hold up Ag Bill progress

Drama in Westminster is likely to hold up the progress of the Ag Bill as Ministers seek to ensure it is not used to inflict damage on the Prime Minister, says Tom Bartosak-Harlow, director of external affairs at the CLA.

Are we closer to a deal, no deal, or no Brexit in light of recent events in Parliament? In reality, all three options are still on the table.

 

The Prime Minister certainly planned for her Brexit deal to be approved by now, with discussions turning to what a future trading relationship will look like this side of Christmas.

 

However, this is far from the case and the political uncertainty gripping Westminster does not look like letting go any time soon.

 

After surviving a no confidence vote, Theresa May now has some breathing space to go back to the European Union and attempt to renegotiate the Brexit deal.

 

Cosmetic

 

But the likelihood of her achieving anything other than cosmetic assurances at the edges seems remote.

 

To quote Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, there is ‘no room whatsoever’ to renegotiate the Brexit deal.

 

However, even if the backstop issues can be resolved, it seems increasingly unlikely the Prime Minister can get her deal through Parliament.

 

The no confidence vote might have extended her premiership for now, but it has done little to reduce the Brexit gridlock.

 

So what does this uncertainty mean for farmers across the UK?

 

Hold

 

We can expect the Agriculture Bill to be put on hold until there is future clarity on the direction of travel with Brexit.

 

While the contents of the Bill perhaps wouldn’t necessarily attract the interest of Brexit-supporting urban MPs, the Government will be keen to ensure the Bill is not used as a political football to inflict further defeats and damage on the Prime Minister.

 

Equally, much-needed details on plans for our future trading relationship and immigration system with the EU are unlikely to be forthcoming.

 

Frustratingly, this uncertainty is not likely to end anytime soon.

 

Thankfully, one area where we do have some clarity is around what happens to our membership of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

 

Exit

 

If we leave the UK, with or without a deal, we will exit the CAP, while an extension of Article 50 and EU membership keeps us inside, at least temporarily.

 

Brexit legislation already passed by Parliament also gives the Government the powers to continue to make Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments essentially under a UK CAP, although some additional legislation in this area still needs to be passed before Brexit day.

 

The next few weeks promise lots of political drama and intrigue, but perhaps not too many of the answers that we all want and need.

 

The clock is ticking. We need politicians to come together and show us all the way ahead.

 

Tom can be found tweeting at @CLATomBH


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