Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan could well fail to find favour with the majority of MPs next week, but it seems many Scottish farmers would support her. Not all though. There are divided opinions, as a Farmers Guardian straw poll found out.
Asked how they would advise their local MP to vote when it comes to the decision on the EU Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday (December 11), they said:
Martin Cessford, arable farmer, haulier and fertiliser blender, Angus:
“I would vote for Mrs May’s deal. It is all that there is and there does not seem to be another deal on offer.
“If it does not pass, then my preference would definitely be to abandon Brexit and stay in the EU. We have wasted enough time in our business on Brexit when we could have been doing other things to take us forward. I am very upset for young people who are being taken out of the EU when it could have been a great part of their future.”
Maimie Paterson, sheep and beef farmer, Dunblane:
“There is lot to be said for Mrs May’s deal but I would want to know a lot more about it. No farmer has the time to read the 585 pages of the Withdrawal Bill, but I hope MPs have done so.
“The deal seems to have the advantage of keeping our markets with the EU open for now, but what about the long term?
“I definitely do not want another referendum. We have been there and done that. The problem with Brexit is that we have always seen it through a thick fog and that fog is getting thicker as time goes on.”
Neale McQuistan, pedigree sheep and cattle breeder, Wigtownshire:
“If the Government plan is not accepted, look for alternatives. Do not crash out of the EU without a deal. There is room for more negotiation. The EU is not unreasonable and something close to Norway Plus might be achievable.
“Remember Scottish people have to be recognised as having voted to stay in the EU. I am a Beltex breeder and our big markets for that type of lamb are in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Without these markets we are up the creek without a paddle.”
Andrew Moir, arable farmer, Laurencekirk, South Aberdeenshire, and chairman of the Ringlink co-operative:
“I would vote in support of Mrs May. If there is one thing that is needed in our business it is certainty and it is the same with farming. We need it as quickly as possible and this deal offers the best chance.”
Alex Allison, hill farmer, South Lanarkshire:
“Vote with Mrs May. She may of course be defeated but I think she will come back quickly with some alterations which will be accepted.”
Nigel Miller, farmer and vet, Galashiels and former president of NFU Scotland:
“I voted to remain and I have not changed my mind. The deal is a compromise, but the reality is a compromise is all that was ever going to be on offer.
“It is the best that can be done and does recognise the results of the Brexit referendum. I would vote for Mrs May’s deal.”
Marion Tilson, Aberdeen Angus breeder, Berwickshire:
“I voted against staying in the EU. If Mrs May’s deal falls through I would go for no deal and trading on World Trade Organisation rules.
“It might hurt farming in the short term, but in the long term it would be the best option. I would not want a second referendum.”
Bob Howat, sheep farmer, North East Fife:
"I am disgusted with the political class. The parties could have worked together far better and there will be repercussions I an sure.
"I do not particularly like the Ireland backstop in Mrs May’s deal. It is something we might never get permission to leave. I would however reluctantly go along with the proposals as stop gap although I do fear it is a trap. We have seen two years wasted. My faith in politicians is at rock bottom."