Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, today demanded that the Government listen to Farmers and Crofters when deciding no deal preparations. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael called on Government Ministers to reconsider the rates of tax which are proposed to be charged on agriculture goods being imported into the UK.
Mr. Carmichael said:
“Has the Minister seen the call from the President of the National Farmers Union for Scotland, asking the Government to abandon their proposals for an applied tariff in the event of a no deal Brexit? As he pointed out ‘without the maintenance of tariff protections we would be in danger of opening up the UK to imported food which would be illegal to be produced here. In the 1970s, his predecessors in the Conservative Government then regarded our fishermen as expendable. It is beginning to look like this government has taken the same attitude towards our farmers.”
Responding on behalf of the Government Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, replied:
“I disagree entirely. The tariff schedule is designed to protect every sector of the economy including agriculture. He then went on to talk about standards, and we are not dropping standards of what we expect in agricultural goods.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael added:
“The Minister can disagree with me all he wants, but he can’t dismiss the views of our farmers and crofters. They know what they are talking about and have genuine concerns about whether food standards will be eroded as a result of cheaper imports.
“The Government must start listening to the experts in this area, and the Unions who work on their behalf otherwise we risk undermining an important part of our rural economy.
“With only nine days left before we could find ourselves falling into a no deal scenario, the Government have got to fix these tariff schedules before they do irreparable damage to our agriculture industry.”