19 September 2000
Chancellor rejects 60-day deadline

By FWi staff

CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown has rejected a 60-day deadline set by farmers for measures to meet their grievances over fuel prices.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Brown makes it plain he is not prepared to change three-year spending plans announced in July.

He said: “Were not going to make decisions on the basis of deadlines such as this. We have a process that works – the Pre-Budget Report and then the Budget.”

However, Mr Brown hinted that the Pre-Budget Report would refer to problems in farming and there would be consultations before and after the report.

The Chancellor did say he would use the petrol row to launch a national debate about taxation and spending.

Mr Brown is under pressure from Cabinet colleagues to be more conciliatory after Labours disastrous showing in weekend opinion polls, reports The Times.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, leading farmer and protester Richard Haddock accused the government of arrogance.

He claimed he had written to Prime Minister Tony Blair on several occasions requesting a meeting, and had never even received acknowledgement.

Mr Haddock issued a new challenge to the Prime Minister.

The West Country beef producer said he would be in London for two days next week and called on Mr Blair to meet with him.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has called for a five-year cap on fuel taxes, and penalties for companies charging inflated prices.

In an emergency statement on the crisis, Mr Kennedy urged the Government to use the VAT windfall from higher-than-expected fuel costs to ease the burden on motorists.

Speaking at the Lib-Dem party conference, Mr Kennedy also called for more help for those in rural areas reliant on cars, reports The Times

And on the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme, Brynle Williams, who led protesters at the Stanlow refinery in Cheshire, reflected on events.

Mr Williams said he was uncertain what the protest had achieved and was uncomfortable with being thrust into the limelight.

He said: “I cant come to terms with so much attention being focused on me. Ive never been bred for that sort of thing, Ive never been educated for it.

,”A farmers boy, thats all I am.”