As Autumn comes
Published in the Farmers Guardian Septenber 2018
As this year’s superb summer gives way to the gold of autumn the negotiations for a new relationship with the EU should be reaching a conclusion.
We see, however, the complete opposite, with the possibility of a ‘no deal’ scenario now being talked about seriously. And given that Theresa May’s original ‘Chequers’ plan did not include agriculture these latest developments or rather non developments are quite disconcerting.
Without a deal which gives the UK access to EU markets on agricultural produce the future for both farmers and consumers could be catastrophic. Already there is talk of food prices increasing by some 5% because of the summer heat wave; without a deal we could see prices increase even more.
Farmers could see vital markets disappear as tariffs are placed on produce from the UK by the EU. For example, France is a vital market for British lamb.
The possibility of food shortages is a major concern for all of us. This, along with many other reasons, is why as we move into autumn and certainly before the first snows of winter Parliament must hold May’s government to account for their disastrous Brexit negotiations. Parliament must make sure that a ‘no deal’ scenario is rejected. We must put country before party.
What is certain is that before the first daffodils of spring 2019 appear the country must have a deal with EU, anything else will be disastrous, especially so for our farming sector.
For me that deal must give us the same access to the single market we currently enjoy, along with a Customs Union. And it certainly needs to be a deal that includes agriculture, which the Chequers proposals do not.
There is certainly much work to do and not much time left. Like millions of voters, I am getting more and more concerned that narrow party considerations are being put first. This is not acceptable. As I write this I am hearing MPs might not be told of the full consequences of a ‘No Deal’. That cannot happen.
If there was ever a time when Parliament needs to claim its sovereignty and stand up for ordinary people it is now. We must not falter.