The NFU has hit back at Defra Secretary George Eustice’s claim that a no-deal Brexit will be a ‘good outcome’ for the UK.
Though he acknowledged a no-deal Brexit would mean British food exports facing high EU tariffs, he told the BBC Today programme that leaving with no agreement would mean the UK had ‘regained its independence’.
Speaking on the Radio 4 show this week (September 7), he said: “What it [no deal] would mean is there would be tariffs in both directions.
“The EU can be expected to put tariffs on our goods and we would put tariffs on theirs.
“EU companies would have to access the UK market through the UK global tariff, so there would be tariffs on Irish beef and tariffs on pork and poultry coming from the Netherlands… It would be a good outcome in that we would have regained our independence as a country and we will be making our own laws again.”
Mr Eustice also said the Prime Minister was sensible to walk away from talks unless a deal was agreed in October, because it would give businesses certainty to plan for the future.
But Minette Batters, president of the NFU, told Farmers Guardian there was no guarantee tariffs would remain reciprocal in a no-deal scenario.
“We know Treasury’s main focus is on ensuring we do not see food inflation,” she said.
“The moment they start to see food inflation, the worry would be they withdraw the tariff wall for EU imports of food.
“Then you have the disaster zone, where our farmers face the high tariff wall of the EU and we are allowing food imports in without a tariff.
“There are many in Government saying the opportunity of Brexit is cheaper food. I genuinely do not believe they will stand back and allow massive food inflation to happen in order to make sure British agriculture is not undermined.”