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Westminster Attack Sees NFUS Ministerial Meetings on Brexit Postponed

Evidence to Scottish Committee earlier in the day outlines Scottish industry’s Brexit needs

The attack at Westminster this afternoon (22 March) saw the necessary postponement of a high-level meeting between NFU Scotland and three UK Government Ministers to discuss Scottish agriculture’s Brexit priorities.

With one week to go until the historic triggering of Article 50, NFUS was to have attended a unique meeting with three senior UK Government Ministers – with trade, labour requirements and agricultural support at the top of the agenda.  

Because of the worrying events at Parliament, the meeting with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Andrea Leadsom MP; Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP; and Minister of State for Exiting the EU, David Jones MP will be rescheduled.  The NFUS delegation of President Andrew McCornick; Vice President Gary Mitchell and Parliamentary Officer Clare Slipper were in Westminster Underground Station at the time of the incident and are now returning safely home.

Earlier today, NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy, Jonnie Hall, had called for profitability for Scotland’s farmers and crofters to be the focus of the upcoming Brexit negotiations when he gave evidence to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee in the Scottish Parliament.  That evidence session was part of that committee’s inquiry on the implications of Brexit for agriculture and forestry in Scotland.  

Speaking from London, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “It is a sad and worrying incident and thoughts must be with the victims of this attack, and their families.

“Debate on Brexit can wait for another day.  We hope that all three Ministers will find diary space in the days ahead to sit down and give serious consideration to what Scotland’s farmers and crofters want from the Brexit negotiations.”

In giving evidence in the Scottish Parliament this morning, Director of Policy Jonnie Hall laid out what those priorities are.  Speaking afterwards, Mr Hall said: “Article 50 – the process which will trigger the UK’s exit from the EU – will be invoked in one week’s time, ending more than 40 years of agricultural policy and free trade.

“In the nine months since the EU referendum outcome, NFUS has built a positive case that will allow Scotland’s farmers and crofters to be supported outside of the EU – via continued free trade with the EU; new, ambitious international trade deals; access to a non-UK labour pool and a well-funded, refreshed agricultural policy that is fit for the needs of Scotland’s unique landscape and farming practices.

“However, substance and detail on what measures will be prioritised for the agricultural industry have been frustratingly sparse.  NFU Scotland will continued to press the importance of ensuring the Brexit deal works for Scottish farmers and crofters.
“The escalating disagreement between UK and Scottish governments on where agricultural policy post-Brexit will be developed must not deflect from that aim.  The needs of Scottish farmers and crofters must be put ahead of political posturing.

“To deliver certainty and stability in the future, it is inherent on both parliaments that a mechanism is found that will return at least the same quantum of funding to Scottish agriculture as we have secured as members of the EU, with the necessary devolved levers to allow an appropriate agricultural policy to be developed in Scotland.

“NFUS is crystal clear that any approach that drops a ‘Defra-centric’, one-size-fits-all policy on to the devolved nations would be unacceptable.

“Scotland should continue to determine its own agricultural policy and link together with the other parts of the United Kingdom on joint initiatives where appropriate.  The needs of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are very different and must be recognised.”  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 45/17


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