Hunt pledges £6bn to help farmers in event of 'no deal'

Jeremy Hunt's £6bn pledge for the farming industry will 'smooth over' a no-deal Brexit (Photo: WILL OLIVER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Jeremy Hunt's £6bn pledge for the farming industry will 'smooth over' a no-deal Brexit (Photo: WILL OLIVER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Jeremy Hunt is to announce a £6bn package for the farming industry as they 'face uncertainty' if the UK leaves the EU with 'no deal'.

The Conservative Party leadership contender will say farmers and those in the fishing industry 'face uncertainty' if the UK abruptly exits the EU.

However, in a speech set to be delivered in central London later today (1 July), Mr Hunt will say the £6bn pledge will 'help smooth it over'.

The Foreign Secretary has previously stated that a 'no deal' scenario is not his preferred choice but that parliament will need to prepare for all eventualities.

“If you’re a sheep farmer in Shropshire or a fisherman in Peterhead I have a simple message for you,” he will say.

“I know you face uncertainty if we have to leave the EU without a deal.

“I will mitigate the impact of no deal Brexit on you and step in to help smooth those short term difficulties.

“If we could do it for the bankers in the financial crisis, we can do it for our fisherman, farmers and small businesses now.”

The Country, Land and Business Association (CLA) said Mr Hunt's announcement 'recognises the unique circumstances' of the industry.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer, President said: “This is especially true for sectors such as sheep farming where the deadline of 31 October could not come at a worse time.

“However, it must not mask the real issues with a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Whoever wins the leadership race will need to negotiate a future trade deal with the EU which is as free and frictionless as possible.

“Mr Hunt’s proposals are also unclear in some areas. Described as “temporary” there is little detail on timeframes nor, most importantly, what follows once they are concluded.

“Is it longer term relief or structural reform? Without further details then this could be viewed as simply another example of kicking the can down the road,” he said.

Farm groups and unions have frequently warned of the consequences a no deal Brexit could bring.

The NFU has described crashing out of the EU as the 'Armageddon scenario' for British farmers.

Last December, the union agreed six principles with the government to encourage the best outcome for British farmers when the UK leaves the EU.

One of them was avoiding a ‘no deal’ outcome and any short-term political and economic turmoil.

Meanwhile, Conservative leadership front runner Boris Johnson promised to support the farming industry after Brexit.

During a meeting with farmers in Cumbria last week, he said farmers 'should be assured that we will support the rural community, with price support, efficiency payments, whatever'.