Politicians react to the CLA’s report on how Brexit would affect the rural economy

04 April 2016

The CLA is continuing to demand details of a plan for the rural economy should the UK vote to leave the EU on 23 June.

Across England and Wales the CLA is engaging with politicians and the public to keep the rural economy at the heart of the debate about EU membership.

This follows publication of Leave or Remain, the CLA’s report explaining the decisions that our politicians must make to support the rural economy.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “Having set out in our report how leaving the EU would impact on the rural economy, it is crucial that we continue to engage with politicians on this vitally important issue and that is just what we are doing. We need to have clarity on what the Government’s ‘plan B’ is in the event of us leaving the EU.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that British farmers could “suffer enormously” if the UK voted to leave in the referendum and said that it is important to be ready if that happened. However, there has been little sign of a backup plan from our politicians in the event of an exit vote.

Following the publication of the CLA report, Defra secretary Liz Truss said it was not possible to give guarantees about the future of agricultural policy in the event of a vote to leave, and that any exit process would not be solely dependent on the UK Government.

She said: “It is dependent on negotiations with the other 27 member states about what the terms of exit will be. So we simply don’t know how much Britain would have to pay into the pot – we don’t know what the level of tariffs would be on an industry like agriculture.”

Defra minister George Eustice, who is campaigning to leave, said an independent UK would “without a shadow of doubt” be able to fund the farm subsidies, totalling more than £2bn, which are currently paid through the Common Agricultural Policy. But details of how a British agricultural policy would work are yet to be clarified.

In response to the CLA’s Leave or Remain report, William Graham, the chairman the Welsh Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee has written to the First Minister asking for confirmation that plans are being prepared for both possible outcomes of the EU Referendum, warning of serious risks to the rural economy if ministers fail to plan for Brexit.

Mr Graham took action as a result of the committee’s discussions with CLA President Ross Murray at the Senedd about issues affecting the rural economy in Wales.

Here are some of the CLA events that will examine the potential impact of Britain voting to leave the EU:

CLA South East:

  • 19 May: In or Out of the EU. Loseley Park, Guildford Surrey.
  • 9 June: Leave or Remain – What’s best for the South’s Rural Economy – breakfast debate on the first day of the South of England Show, Ardingly, West Sussex

 CLA East:

  • 20 April: Writtle College, Essex Agricultural Society event ‘Brexit – the Facts’ featuring CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood, AHDB Chair Peter Kendall, former Conservative MP Sir Jim Paice, and Toby Coke, UKIP leader in Norfolk County Council.

CLA Wales:

  • CLA President Ross Murray chaired a hustings last month ahead of the Welsh Assembly elections on 5 May, during which he quizzed the candidates about ‘plan B’ for the rural economy in the case of Brexit

 CLA South West:

CLA South West is expecting the EU question to feature heavily in its first day breakfasts at the shows this year:

  • 19 May: Devon County Show
  • 1 June: Royal Bath and West Show
  • 9 June: Royal Cornwall Show

CLA North:

  • 5 May – Brexit debate with Professor Wyn Grant (University of Warwick), 7.30pm at Ulverston Auction Mart, North Lonsdale Terrace, Ulverston, LA12 9AU

 CLA Midlands:

  • 6 May: EU Referendum Debate, Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester. Financial consultant RSM has invited members to hear politicians including Owen Paterson and Jim Paice debate the UK’s membership to the EU

 This list is not exhaustive – for more information contact your regional CLA office.

 Download a copy of the report from www.cla.org.uk/eureport

To order free hard copies call your regional office or email emma.hislop @cla.org.uk