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Farm industry leaders ‘wrong’ to be worried about no-deal Brexit, says Eustice

Ex-Farming Minister George Eustice has said farm industry leaders are ‘wrong’ to be worried about leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

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Farm industry leaders ‘wrong’ to be worried about no-deal Brexit, says Eustice

Mr Eustice, who resigned on Friday (March 1) over the Prime Minister’s decision to allow MPs to vote to block a no-deal Brexit on March 29, made the remarks on Sky News’ Sophie Ridge on Sunday show this weekend.

 

Asked whether farmers were right to be worried about a no-deal scenario, Mr Eustice said: “No, they are wrong. It would be difficult, there would be some turbulence, but we have done huge amounts of planning for this eventuality.

 

“We will put in place tariffs to protect some of the most sensitive sectors including beef and sheep and possibly some of the dairy sectors.

 

“We have also done a great deal of work in terms of how we can continue to get our exports into the EU, making sure we have got the IT in place to do export health certificates and having some discussions with authorities in Calais about how they would handle customs checks and border inspection posts.”

 

 


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Mr Eustice, who has said he will back the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement, went on to claim food prices would only suffer a ‘small jolt’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

 

“We will be aiming through our tariff policy to keep food prices stable, but the biggest impact on food prices will be exchange rates, and if there was a 10 per cent devaluation in sterling, that might increase food prices by about 2.5 per cent,” he said.

 

“To put that into context, food prices go up for down by 5-10 per cent in any typical year, so it is a relatively small jolt but it is nevertheless a jolt which is why we obviously want an agreement.”

 

Furious

 

Vicki Hird, head of farming at the Sustain food alliance, told Farmers Guardian many people would be ‘furious and confused’ Mr Eustice had dismissed their concerns about food standards and supply in a no-deal Brexit.

 

“Even his old boss Michael Gove commented recently about how catastrophic a no deal will be,” she said.

 

“Whatever the quality of planning which may be happening at Defra, this felt like a betrayal of thousands of farm businesses he once was Minister for, who will be at the mercy of currency fluctuations, unknown tariff decisions and vague suggestions of support.

 

“He should do everything now to avoid a no deal situation.”

 

 

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