The Government’s decision to publish its no-deal tariff schedule just two weeks away from March 29 shows a disregard for British farming, says Tim Farron, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP.
Has there ever been a Government which has shown more disregard for British farming?
We are just two weeks away from crashing out of the world’s biggest market and it’s only over the past few days that the Government decided to tell our farmers what the tariffs on imported food products will be.
What an insult to everyone involved in farming who have been given no time at all to prepare for the biggest change to industry for a generation.
More troubling is the recent revelation from a Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information Request which found Defra have yet to produce any impact assessment on the effect of Brexit on sheep farming in the UK. Not a single one.
But what’s even worse than the uncertainty of a no-deal is the crippling certainty.
Leaving the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms would see our farmers go from being able to trade freely with countries in Europe to the absolute kamikaze position of having a 52 per cent tariff slapped onto sheep product exports.
To put this into even sharper perspective, hill farmers in this country currently export 40 per cent of their total produce, with the vast majority (90 per cent) going to the EU.
Add on to this the Government’s reckless plans to phase out direct payments for farmers over the next seven years, and this would truly be a body blow to the future of British hill farming.
That’s why whatever happens over the coming weeks and months – and your guess is as good as mine with that – I’ll be doing all I can to stop the Government selling our farmers down the river by taking us out of the EU without a deal.
Tim can be found tweeting at @timfarron