UFU comment on Article 50 extension vote

Thursday, 14 March, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says a critical vote by MPs supporting a Government motion to seek an extension to Article 50 is a positive step. However, it says there is no time to waste and any extension granted by the EU must be used constructively to ensure the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

The comments were made after the latest in a series of Brexit related votes in the House of Commons. Including an earlier vote, which was not legally binding, where MPs rejected the UK leaving the EU without a deal. Sending a very clear message to the Government.

UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said, “The writing has been on the wall for some time now. With only 14 days to go until Brexit, there is no realistic possibility of achieving an orderly departure from the EU on the agreed date. The UFU has been clear from the outset, a no deal Brexit would be the worst possible outcome for Northern Ireland’s family farm businesses. It is reassuring that a significant majority in parliament feel the same way and have supported an extension to Article 50. However, the clock is ticking and immediate action is needed to ensure a no-deal Brexit does not become a reality.”

The UFU says if the EU grants an extension to Article 50 any subsequent negotiation must have real substance. “Currently the UK is heading blindly towards a cliff edge and the uncertainty is causing major real world issues for farm businesses. It’s time to put differences aside and act in the interest of the country as a whole. The government and MPs must identify a clear strategy and use any extension constructively. Simply delaying the prospect of a no deal is completely unacceptable,” said the UFU president.

The UK government recently published its proposed temporary tariffs schedule, which would come into force in the event of a no deal. Mr Ferguson says this document only further emphasised the catastrophe that awaits Northern Ireland’s farmers and their families if the UK leaves without a deal. “The zero rate tariff on goods entering Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland would drive down prices and could open the door to illegal trade. This would compromise the integrity of the NI agri-food industry and ultimately the UK agri-food industry as a whole. We cannot allow this to happen,” he said.