Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has today warned Agriculture Minister about the risk to the red meat industry of being cut off from major export markets in the EU in the event of a no-deal scenario. This follows news reports over the weekend that the Department for Exiting the European Union were preparing an “Armageddon” scenario where the UK leaves the EU with tariffs on goods all goods, the collapse of the Port of Dover, food shortages, and fuel shortages.
Raising the issue in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:
“The Minister knows that something in the region of two thirds of our red meat goes to the European Union. The lack of certainty over our future customs relationship with the EU is now causing real and substantial concern. When will the Minister remove that uncertainty?”
Responding on behalf of the Government, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, George Eustice MP, said:
“I disagree with the Hon. Gentlemen, we have published already our consultation on future agriculture policy. We are analysing the 44,000 responses and we are looking closely at this. On the issue of trade, it is also the case that the UK is a very important market for the EU, notably Irish beef, poultry from the Netherlands, and pork from Denmark. It is in their interests as well to have a comprehensive free trade agreement.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael added:
“If George Eustice disagrees with me that there is a lack of clarity and a real concern in the agriculture industry over our future export opportunities, then he is simply not living in the real world. He should get out from behind his desk and spend more time talking to real farmers across the country who are worried about the future of their livelihoods.
“A consultation on policy is all well and good, but with the Minister unable to reassure farming communities that there will be no trade tariffs post-Brexit, his words seem hollow.
“The Government need to stop bungling this negotiation and start working for a deal that works for the agriculture sector, which the entire country can get behind.”