The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is urging the Government to come forward with clear advice about the implications of ‘no deal’ in its negotiations with the European Union (EU) on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
With various commentators and Cabinet Ministers now predicting a much higher likelihood of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on withdrawal, the TFA is urging greater clarity around what this will mean for farm businesses, and the wider food and drink sector.
TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said: “To date we have been supportive of the Government in its attempts to agree a transitional arrangement with the EU, prior to the implementation of a frictionless trading agreement, whilst at the same time providing an opportunity to build new, positive trading relationships with the rest of the world. However, ever since the publication of the so-called ‘Chequers Agreement’ the likelihood of achieving this has become increasingly remote.”
While noting that the Government has indicated, it is planning to publish ‘technical notes’ detailing potential scenarios to cover a “no deal” situation, he added: “The TFA welcomes the commitment of the Government to issue further information, but it is essential that this advice and information is both detailed, and comprehensive in its scope. It must also provide a clear roadmap to give farmers and the wider food and drink sector, confidence over the immediate future.”
Mr Dunn also referred to ‘rumours abounding’ that the Government may seek to rely upon the UK’s membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) as a means to manage any transition, in the event that it is not possible to finalise a withdrawal agreement with the EU.
“The Government must come clean on whether our membership of the EEA can be used as a ‘plan B’ to provide transition under the terms of the 1994 EEA agreement, in the event we are unable to secure a formal withdrawal agreement,” he said.
“It would appear that the UK is required to provide 12 months’ notice of its intention to leave the EEA, and to date, no such notice has been given. If this is the backstop that the Government is relying upon, we need to know.”