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Ed's Brexit round-up - time ticks closer

8th Mar 2019 / By Ed Barker

Whilst our PM and her selected cabinet members and Ministers scrabble around the corridors of Brussels, times ticks closer to a pretty massive week for the Government.

Another vote

EdBarkerNPAThe plan, as it stands, for next week is that on Tuesday, MPs will get their second main vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. If the Government wins that vote then we sit and wonder what the last few months were worth fussing about.

However if this fails – which seems more probable (a few very sullen MPs noted to me last week), then the PM has agreed to hold two more votes the following day. The vote on Wednesday will decide whether MPs wants a No Deal outcome (which overwhelmingly they don’t)  - and then following that there will then be another vote on whether to extend Article 50. This last option of course is only a request from the UK and has to be agreed by Brussels who hold the UK’s fate in their hands for a no deal outcome.

The PM has been engaged in a series of seemingly circular talks with EU leaders, which has only really raised the antagonism and alarm. EU insiders say that the longer this has gone on, the less clear they are about UK demands, and have been reacting frostily to the recent idea from UK Ministers that this situation is as a result of EU intransigence. To try and sell this further, the PM is today in the fish capital of the UK, Grimsby, in a bid to sell the virtues of the Withdrawal Agreement.

New Farming Minister

More interestingly this week, a new Farming Minister took up post in Defra. Robert Goodwill MP (Con, Scarborough and Whitby) is George Eustice’s replacement and does come from a farming family. He is something of a ‘journeyman’ minister, having done stints at the Home Office and Department for Transport – and will be experienced in getting a lot of legislation through the House in a short space of time. We look forward to working with him at what will be a pretty significant few months for our sector.


Meanwhile the APPG for Eggs, Pigs and Poultry held its annual breakfast meeting in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

In a totally deliberate move, the theme of the event was ‘skills to feed the nation’, and with Peers and MPs in attendance, much ground was covered in what needs to be done to ensure we can attract and retain the staff for the future. More interesting lobbying work is shaping up here –so watch this space.

Credit must go to Richard Longthorp, who represented the ‘producer’ perspective at the event, and gave a great account of what Government can do to help industry help itself – but also what industry must take responsibility for in making pig businesses attractive places to work.

A great quote from him on the day has stayed with me: "Too many farmers look over the hedge in the mornings – they need to look in the mirror."