Farmers will survive a no-deal Brexit, though it will be damaging for British ag – but survival alone is not good enough for the UK, says Angela Smith, an independent MP representing Penistone and Stocksbridge.
I write this having just signed the Church House Declaration, which declared that shutting down Parliament would be ‘an undemocratic outrage at such a crucial moment for our country’, along with over 170 colleagues from across the House.
We have done so because we believe that our new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has no right to drag our country towards a no-deal Brexit without Parliament having a say on the matter.
Johnson tells us this is not his intention, but everything points to a catastrophic plunge over the cliff edge.
He is gambling recklessly with the country’s future and riding roughshod over our democratic traditions in order to get his own way, risking economic and social chaos in doing so.
Make no mistake, a no-deal Brexit will be a disaster for the UK and for the agriculture sector in particular.
Just look at the Government’s own plan for managing no deal, Operation Yellowhammer, which makes it clear that a dramatic rupture from the world’s biggest trading bloc will impact very badly on our economy, with Ministers prepared to spend billions in an attempt to limit the damage.
It is even suggested that the Government will buy and destroy our lamb as export markets in the EU are closed off to us.*
Of course, we will survive all of this, if no deal materialises. But since when has survival been good enough for our country?
The UK has always thrived when it has been ambitious, when it has dedicated all its efforts to growth and prosperity.
It does not need and indeed cannot afford the self-inflicted wound represented by a no-deal Brexit.
Worse still, if that’s possible, the Prime Minister is prepared to prorogue Parliament to stop it having a say.
If anything, Brexit was sold to British people on the premise of Parliament taking back control.
To stop Parliament having a say in the most important decision this country has made since the war is not only undemocratic, it’s a constitutional outrage.
Next week Parliament sits again after the long summer recess. Time is short, even shorter than expected, thanks to Johnson’s use of prorogation to gag Parliament.
We must therefore focus on securing Parliamentary time to debate no deal, with all the detail on the table as far as impact assessments and planned Government interventions are concerned.
We must also be prepared to legislate to prevent a no-deal Brexit, if that is the will of Parliament.
For all Parliamentarians, now more than ever is the time to put the national interest first. If we fail to do so, we will own the consequences.
And history will not judge us kindly.
Angela can be found tweeting at @angelasmithmp
*Farming Minister George Eustice has denied reports that the Government is planning any kind of intervention buying scheme in a no-deal Brexit. See FG story here for more information.