The People’s Vote campaign has set out plans to raise awareness of the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the farming industry with a new group dubbed ‘Farmers for a People’s Vote’.
According to the campaign, farmers “are concerned and directly impacted by the fact that the Brexit promised in 2016 cannot be delivered.”
With some 4 million people earning their living in the UK’s food supply chain, the new group aims to ensure that farmers are heard during this “crucial debate” to prevent “adverse consequences” for the supply of British produce.
In a publicity stunt, campaigners will herd a small flock of sheep past government buildings to highlight the risks posed to livestock in a potential no-deal Brexit scenario, followed by a press conference at the Farmer’s Club in Whitehall to mark the launch.
With guest speakers including Guto Bebb, Conservative MP for Aberconwy- the launch will also be marked with the release of a new report published by Dr Séan Rickard, former Chief Economist of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), detailing the “devastating” impact no deal would have on UK farmers and the agricultural sector.
No deal could put over 50 per cent of UK farms out of business
The report ‘No Deal: The Door to the Decimation of UK Farming’ warns that No Deal could put over 50 per cent of UK farms out of business.
Speaking to the London Economic, Liz Webster – co-founder of the initiative – hoped the group could “cut through the Brexit unicorns and awaken people to what they stand to lose”.
“The NFU has been largely sitting on the fence over a People’s Vote, we hope that now it will realise that preventing a no-deal should be a priority.
“The fact of the matter is that no-deal will devastate the UK’s farming industry. A no-deal Brexit means the immediate placing of large tariff and non-tariff barriers on the UK’s food and agricultural exports to the EU while imports from the 27 remaining members, and the rest of the world would, with few exceptions, enter the UK tariff free.”
Ms. Webster stood as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in North Swindon and in 2018 headed up the Article 50 Challenge team, taking the Government to court in June 2018 in a bid to find the legal decision to leave the EU.
“This campaign is important because we need to encourage farmers to lobby and challenge the government over its Brexit stance if we are to help people understand the risks it poses.”
Currently, the UK imports 40 per cent of its food, with 30 per cent of the UK’s food supply coming directly from the EU.
In a No Deal scenario, UK exports to the EU would face the same tariffs as goods entering the EU from third countries without a preferential trade agreement.
The equivalent ad valorem tariff is 27 per cent on chicken, 46 per cent on lamb, and 65 per cent on beef.
People are still in denial
“With less than three months until we leave with or without a deal, people are still in denial. This is what we are trying to end”.
Farmers for a People’s Vote argues that with no mandate for a no-deal Brexit, the “political reality that forced Theresa May to avoid it” could be used to bring about a People’s Vote.
“A People’s Vote is not an option in this crisis such as different Brexit proposals. Instead, it is the solution to a crisis in which more and more MPs are slowly turning to a new vote as the best way – and last hope – of preventing a deeply damaging Brexit.”