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Reaction from the farming industry: Theresa May announces departure date

The Prime Minister will stand down as Conservative leader on June 7

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Reaction: Theresa May announces departure date

Theresa May has announced she will step down as Conservative leader.


In a speech outside Number 10, the Prime Minister set out terms for her departure after failing to find a consensus on Brexit.


She said: "It is now clear to me that it is in the best interest of the UK for a new PM to lead that effort," she says.


"I am today announcing that I will resign as Conservative leader on Friday 7 June.


"I have agreed with the party chairman that the process for electing a new leader will begin in the following week."




She said it was now for her successor to find a consensus which was only possible if people on both sides were willing to compromise.


Potential next leaders include current Environment Secretary Michael Gove and former Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom.


Mrs Leadsom, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey have been confirmed as candidates.

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NFU President Minette Batters said: “I would like to thank the Prime Minister for her efforts and her willingness to engage with the food and farming sector at this crucial time.


“It is essential that a future Prime Minister ensures that the Article 50 extension is used constructively and a solution is found which enables the UK to leave the EU in an orderly way to avoid a ‘no deal’ scenario which would be catastrophic to British farming.


“The NFU will continue to assess any Brexit solution against the six principles agreed at an extraordinary meeting of NFU Council last year, which includes achieving as free and frictionless trade as possible, ensuring the UK’s international trade pursuits do not undermine our own high production standards and avoiding a no-deal scenario.


“It is frustrating that the Agriculture Bill’s progress remains at a stalemate in Parliament and it is unlikely to make any progress during a leadership contest.


“These delays simply further compound the uncertainty facing farmers. Our members will be expecting any future Prime Minister to address this as a priority, recognising the strategic importance of food and farming to the nation.


“Farmers and growers are still facing many pressing, practical issues on a daily basis, from broadband and rural crime to plant health and climate change and we look to a future Prime Minister to show leadership in these areas that ensures British farming remains productive and resilient.”




FUW President Glyn Roberts said: "The FUW has had many meetings with the outgoing PM in the last couple of years, but did not find them at all productive. There was a remoteness that came from her focus on a single-minded agenda of Brexit means Brexit.

"Mrs May was not prepared to engage and although our recommendations to delay Article 50, which she rebutted, did eventually come to pass.

"Our call for Revocation, which the Government has rejected, is probably more likely now than ever.

"A future PM must be prepared to take stock, to deliver an outcome that minimises any damage to the country. That will take time and will also require greater empathy and consensus building than that which Theresa May demonstrated."


Tim Breitmeyer, President of the CLA said: "For many this will have come as no surprise. Theresa May’s inability to reach a consensus within the Conservative Party, yet alone Parliament, was eventually going to come to a head.


"The upcoming leadership contest will not alter the political arithmetic however and the Brexit deadline of 31 October still looms large.


"While the focus of the Westminster bubble may shift, rural businesses will be looking on concerned that progress towards reaching a workable agreement with the EU has stalled.


"Whoever emerges as Prime Minister will need to build a future relationship with the EU which offers as free and frictionless trade as possible and continued access to labour.


"Allowing the next five months to drift towards a ‘no deal’ Brexit, with its immediate barriers to trade, is a scenario we need to avoid."

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