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Ed's Brexit round-up

10th Nov 2017 / By Ed Barker

As members will have seen, not very much has been going on in Westminster over the last few weeks, aside from ministerial resignations, scandals of various descriptions and wranglings over how far we are down the Brexit path.

Update from Defra Ministers to the NPA

In the past fortnight, the NPA has met with both Michael Gove and George Eustice to discuss Brexit matters.

From George Eustice, we had a very helpful conversation regarding ‘Day One’ readiness for exports of produce and breeding stock, especially outside of the European Union to Asian markets. We also discussed disease control on the UK being outside of the EU, and how we can make the most of Brexit as an opportunity to reassess the way in which we beef up controls on imports that could be high risk.

With Michael Gove, we had a unique insight into what a future UK agricultural policy will look like. It is clear that the existing CAP model will (rightly) be swept aside, in favour of a more targeted set of proposals that address sustainability, the environment, market volatility and investment. This is all positive news for the pig sector, which has largely been a spectator to support funding – and we now have a unique opportunity to argue for sensible, targeted assistance.

Over the coming months the NPA will be putting together a positive overview of how Brexit can in fact offer opportunities for the pig sector. My view on Westminster is that it has heard a lot of negativity from across industries how Brexit is a threat to them; if we really want to be listened to it is time to offer constructive and positive solutions to challenges faces by Brexit. That is not to say we should ignore any concerns when they arise – but providing a solution with it, will ensure our voice is really listened to.

Brexit Bill

Much of the progress of Brexit will come down to the issue of this Brexit ‘Bill’ that the UK will have to pay upon exiting the EU. Now, many have questioned why that is the case – put simply the UK is liable for funding over the lifetime of the EU budget, and for projects that go well into the future.

We are also recipients of a lot of EU funding that is set to go beyond the end of the EU budget as well. The Commission has insisted that no further progress can be made if this ‘bill’ isn’t settled, and the UK has said it will pay a ‘bill’ but has not determined how much. It is red meat for hard-brexiteers who say that we should not pay a penny and accept a hard Brexit. With a minor majority in parliament, the Government could be sweating on navigating this properly.  

Impact studies of Brexit

The Dept for Exiting the EU (DEXEU) has been in a real pickle recently. Its Secretary of State David Davis, stated a while back to a parliamentary committee that the Government had completed a number of impact assessments of Brexit on different industries, but would not release them. Why? Well in Davis’ view it would compromise negotiations, but for others it is because it contains unwelcome news. After much wrangling, and pressure from Labour and backbench MPs, these will now be released in the next three weeks. We will see what they contain and report back to members.

And finally...

On November 29th the NPA will be giving oral evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee in Parliament on their current inquiry ‘Brexit: Trade in Food’. This is the 3rd NPA appearance in front a Committee this year and will be a good opportunity to explain the key issues for our sector. You can read the NPA’s written evidence for the Committee here.