Scottish farmers warn of no-deal ahead of PM appointment

The UK's next Prime Minister will be announced in just a few days time (Photo: Matt Frost/ITV/Shutterstock)
The UK's next Prime Minister will be announced in just a few days time (Photo: Matt Frost/ITV/Shutterstock)

Scottish farmers arrived in Westminster to reiterate the dangers of a no-deal Brexit just days before the appointment of the new Prime Minister.

A cross-party of MPs from Labour, the Conservatives and SNP have heard of the key asks from farmers and crofters in Scotland.

Leading industry figures reiterated the consequences of a no-deal on the agricultural industry.

They stressed that the imposition of export tariffs on the sheep sector under that scenario would 'wreak havoc'.

The removal of tariffs on certain imports could also inflict 'severe harm' on sectors of the industry, including cereals, potatoes, horticulture and eggs, they said.

It comes as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the final two candidates for the next leader of the Conservative Party, prepare for next week's result.

Mr Johnson has pledged an extra £25m-a-year in subsidies for Scottish farmers post-Brexit as they have been 'poorly treated'.

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt announced a £6bn Brexit package for the farming and fishery industries if the UK leaves the EU with no-deal.

He said farmers 'face uncertainty' if the UK abruptly exits the EU.

But industry figures from NFU Scotland are concerned that provisions within the Agriculture Bill do not ensure that high domestic standards of production must be met post-Brexit.

The union calls for government to commit to ringfenced and multiannual budget cycles for future agricultural funding.

It pointed to commitments made by both candidates on future funding for the sector, ahead of the widely anticipated publication of Lord Bew’s independent review commissioned by UK government into intra-UK allocations of funding.

While in London, NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy Jonnie Hall also participated in a ‘Future of Farming’ conference, specifically discussing the potential impact of the Agriculture Bill on Scottish farming.

Mr Hall said: “It is vital for the future of Scottish farming and crofting that we quickly cut a way through the current complexity and uncertainty perpetuated by the ongoing political race to Number 10.

“As shown in NFUS’ Brexit survey results published last month, uncertainty is crippling confidence within the sector at present and NFUS is pushing very hard to get agriculture to be top of the agenda when the new PM is appointed.”

The survey shows that only one in ten Scottish farmers are positive about the future once the UK leaves the EU.