CLA reaction to the Prime Minister’s speech on Brexit

17 January 2017

The Prime Minister set out three key positions on UK Brexit policy today (17 January):

  • The UK will not seek to be a member of the single market, but instead seek the best possible access through a bilateral free trade agreement. 
  • The UK will not seek to remain a full member of the EU customs union to allow the UK to pursue new free trade deals with other countries around the world, but it will seek new customs arrangements. 
  • The deal should include phased implementation to avoid economic cliff edges and allow reorganisation.

CLA President Ross Murray said: "It is important that we take these three positions as the basis for the next phase of discussions on Brexit policy and how it affects the rural economy. We must move on from some of the arguments that have been a hangover of the referendum.

“The Prime Minister has set out clearly her trade ambitions. We fully support her plan to secure the best possible free trade agreement with the EU. Our aim must be to retain tariff free access for all products and all parts of the agri-food supply chain. We will continue to provide whatever support we can to help in securing this vital outcome.

“We are more cautious about the consequences of new trade deals with other countries and markets. We understand and support the principle that post-Brexit, the Government will pursue a range of trade agreements that can bring benefits to the UK economy as a whole. However, we will urge the Government to consider closely the balance of opportunity and risk for the agri-food sector that is specific to each and every potential deal available to the UK post-Brexit.

"The type of Brexit the Prime Minister has set out is a dramatic change and it will have a particularly major impact on UK farming. We therefore welcome the Prime Minister's reassurances about avoiding economic cliff edges and the importance of a phased implementation. Getting this implementation phase right will be critical to the livelihoods of farmers and the future of rural communities across Britain.”