As MPs begin their deliberations on the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement with the EU, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) have warned MPs of the dangers of a “no-deal” Brexit for their members.
A joint letter has been sent to MPs urging them to ensure that “no deal” is removed from the negotiating table – whatever the outcome of the parliament’s “meaningful vote” on Theresa May’s Brexit plan next Tuesday (15 January). A five-day debate on the subject commences in Westminster today (9 January).
The letter explains that more than 60% of food and drink exports from the UK went to EU markets in 2017.
“A trading relationship under a no-deal Brexit would, at best, impose significant tariffs on exports, and, at worst, leave us unable to trade at all with the EU, at least in the short term,” it says.
“This is a recipe for disaster for all farmers and ultimately will cause long-term damage to the rural communities and countryside of our nation.”
The letter goes on to explain the potential benefits of Brexit in terms of developing a new domestic agricultural policy that best suits the needs of British farmers and rural businesses.
“However, a no-deal Brexit puts at risk this opportunity by placing significant barriers to trade and labour supply overnight, alongside the significant long-term uncertainty that would be created.”
CLA president Tim Breitmeyer said avoiding the uncertainty and catastrophic effects of a no-deal Brexit was critical.
“The UK’s future relationship with the EU must include the free and frictionless trade on which so many rural businesses depend. A no-deal scenario would throw this into doubt. It is crucial that all MPs and the government work together to ensure a deal is in place before 29 March.”
TFA chief executive George Dunn said both landlords and tenants needed the confidence to invest for the future and the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit would put that in jeopardy.
“Farm tenants are proud of the high-quality output for which they are responsible and the thought that these standards could be undermined by cheaper, lower quality imports in a no-deal Brexit is a major concern,” he added.