Dominic Raab urged to highlight importance of agriculture in Brexit talks

The sheep industry has appealed to Dominic Raab to work closely with Michael Gove in advancing UK agricultural policy
The sheep industry has appealed to Dominic Raab to work closely with Michael Gove in advancing UK agricultural policy

The new Brexit Secretary has been urged to highlight the importance of agriculture in future Brexit negotiations with the EU.

Dominic Raab has been appointed the new Secretary for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), following Davis Davis' resignation.

Mr Davis resigned late on Sunday night (8 July), explaining that Prime Minister Theresa May had "given away too much too easily".

Mr Raab, along with Mr Davis, is a prominent Leave campaigner. He was housing minister before taking up the top Brexit job.

Michael Gove was favourite to replace Mr Davis for the job, but he remains unmoved from his position as Defra Secretary.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has called for Mr Raab and Mr Gove to work closely so British agriculture is "protected".

This in line with the agreement made by Cabinet on Friday (6 July), which seemingly values British agricultural interests highly, and that Mr Gove came out in support of over the weekend.

Under Cabinet plans for a new free trade zone, the UK would be committed legally to following EU law for a large part of the economy, including agriculture.

'Closer relationship'

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive said free and frictionless trade with the EU is the best scenario for the UK sheep industry.

“It would appear Mr Gove is currently supporting a view that we, and many others, have said is best for the UK sheep industry – free and frictionless trade with the EU even it is means accepting a closer relationship than some would like,” Mr Stocker said.

“Friday’s Cabinet agreements will not please everyone but, with just eight months to go before we leave, pragmatism is setting in and I hope the new Brexit Secretary will support this position too.”

NSA said that Mr Gove must stay where as Defra Secretary for the foreseeable future, regardless of any other resignations or reshuffles, to ensure consistency through the difficult EU withdrawal negotiation period.

Mr Stocker added: “Farming and the environment need stability at this stage, and they will be key industry and public interest areas as we go through future changes that will need special consideration rather than fit into the standard mould.”

The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019.