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Whatever the Brexit deal, farmers must remember the sun will always rise tomorrow

With the turmoil around Brexit reaching a crescendo, farmers should remember the sun will always rise tomorrow, says Stuart Roberts, vice president at the NFU.

The challenge of putting pen to paper on Brexit these days is that, before the ink is even dry, things will have inevitably moved on.

 

At present, Theresa May is still in Number 10 and her Brexit deal with the EU is still (just) on the table, waiting to be signed.

 

But would I bet on either of those being true by the time FG next goes to press? I am not sure.

 

Of course, this is symptomatic of the uncertainty that has plagued the Brexit process since the EU referendum in 2016.

 

Crying

 

Farmers have been crying out for certainty; for clarity on what Brexit will look like and what it will mean for farming, so we can plan properly and prepare our businesses for the future.

 

But alas, this clarity has not been forthcoming.

 

And now, with barely 110 days left before we are due to formally leave the EU, it seems like all options remain possible.

 

For me, the priority for our policy-makers – who are hardly covering themselves in glory right now – is to navigate a course that avoids a no-deal cliff edge in March 2019.

 

Worse

 

The more I have understood the implications of a no-deal Brexit, the worse it looks for farming, and at the moment there are not many options on the table that avoid it.

 

Indeed, the PM’s current deal, for all its faults, at least has the merit of being agreed by both the UK government and the EU Council.

 

It is not clear there is much agreement for anything else right now – and it is agreement and compromise that are crucial if we are to avoid political and economic turmoil in the coming weeks.

 

But that compromise looks in shortly supply, and I wonder where the PM is going to find the support she needs.

 

Reminded

 

I am reminded of the 6th Century British chronicler Gildas (OK, I confess, I had never heard of him until a colleague recently filled me in).

 

He apparently wrote an early history of Britain, covering the period around the Roman’s own Brexit, when they left our shores around 400 BC.

 

What amounted to the British Government of its day, under attack from the Scots and the Picts (very much the DUP and SNP of the era!) sent a letter to the Roman commander in mainland Europe – probably based somewhere around the Brussels area – asking for help.

 

This appeal is known by the frankly wonderful name of the ‘Groan of the Britons.’

 

Groan

 

I wonder if we are going to hear a similar groan sent across the channel next week, a last desperate plea for help from the Commission to get the PM’s deal over the line.

 

Unfortunately, the precedent is not a positive one for Mrs May. The Britons’ Groans were ignored.

 

Instead they turned to the Anglo-Saxons for help with their domestic problems, but who instead they ended up fighting.

 

And the name of the treaty that finally ended that conflict? Gildas called it the ‘Grievous Divorce from the Barbarians’. Sounds like a Dark Ages version of ‘no deal’ to me!

 

Nothing new

 

There are almost too many Brexit analogies in there to sort through, but it does remind us that there is nothing new under the sun.

 

And that, despite hardship and turmoil, that the sun always rises tomorrow.

 

I would just prefer it if it did so without too many Groans and Grievous Divorces along the way.

 

Stuart can be found tweeting at @HertsFarmer


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