No deal Brexit would be an 'absolute disaster' for Scottish farming, NFU Scotland warns
A no deal Brexit would be an “absolute disaster” for Scottish farming, NFU Scotland had warned.
Speaking at a fringe event at the SNP spring conference in Edinburgh, NFU Scotland director of policy Jonnie Hall urged the UK Government to guarantee it would match funding currently distributed by the Common Agricultural Policy, stressing a no deal Brexit would be “a cliff edge from which Scottish agriculture, most of it, would find terminal”.
The EU last month agreed to provide the UK Government with a "flexible extension" to Article 50, giving ministers another six months to win support for the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement before the UK leave the EU on October 31.
But the UK Government has faced repeated warnings over the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal, which would mean new taxes on imports, exports and services, as well as the prospect of potential food and medicine shortages.
Appearing alongside Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing, Hall warned: “No deal would be an absolute disaster for the UK and for Scotland in particular. We have made that very, very clear from day one, we have continued to press Westminster, and all MPs at Westminster, on our position on that. A no deal scenario would be a cliff edge from which Scottish agriculture, most of it, would find terminal. We are totally opposed to that.
“The reality of having Brexit at the forefront of what we do is that clearly, since 2016, we have had to set out what we wanted in terms of the Brexit process. We want to be as close to our current position, as close to the single market and the customs union, as we possibly can be, with frictionless trade.
“We also want to see absolute freedom of movement of people, because fundamentally the people who come to Scotland add some value, not just to Scottish society but particularly to certain sectors of our agricultural industry.
“Finally, we want a settlement that says if we are going to leave the CAP, we want at least as much funding guaranteed by the UK Government for Scottish ministers to determine how best to spend it, in the interests of Scotland, and to drive Scottish agriculture forward.