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May gives more clarity on Brexit but questions for pig industry remain

3rd Oct 2016 / By ¬†Alistair Driver

Prime Minister Theresa May has provided more clarity on what Brexit will actually mean.

Article 50 will be triggered by the end of next March, setting in motion two years of formal negotiations that should see the UK formally out of the EU at some point in 2019.

She stressed the UK will seek a deal with the EU that involves free trade, in goods and services.

“I want it to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the single market - and let European businesses do the same here,” she told the Conservative Party Conference, adding that she also wanted to make immigration an overriding priority.

But Mrs May stressed the deal would not be based on a 'Norway model' or 'Switzerland model', where non-EU countries have access to the single market but have to comply with EU regulation and pay into EU funds.

"Our laws will be made not in Brussels but in Westminster,” she said.

However, the starting point will be that the body of EU law will be transposed into UK law.

Parliament will then be free, subject to international agreements and treaties with other countries and the EU on matters such as trade, to amend, repeal and improve any law it chooses, the Prime Minister added.

NPA view

The NPA has been formulating its priorities on Brexit and is making sure Defra Ministers get the message. Priorities include:

  • Ensuring the pork industry is not disadvantaged in trade negotiations. For example, any significant reduction in import tariffs risks exposing UK producers to cheap, lower standard imports
  • Ensuring sufficient resource is deployed to fully protect UK producers against imported animal disease
  • Using negotiations on a new post-Brexit farm policy to deliver grant funding or tax relief to help with reinvestment in new buildings, equipment and infrastructure to improve pig health and welfare.  

NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said: “We welcome the clarity provided on the UK’s departure from the EU. But many outstanding questions remain, chief among them the future of any trading relations the UK secures with the big pigmeat exporting countries.

“We will be making the case very strongly that is not in the interests of consumer or pig farmers to open our doors to large volumes of lower standard pigmeat imports.

“The Brexit vote was won on the promise of freedom from the grip of Brussels regulation but we will believe this when we see it. The UK has a record of gold-plating EU regulation so we will be watching this very closely.”

NPA chairman Richard Lister raised NPA’s Brexit concerns at a meeting with Defra Ministers in September.

Lizzie is part of a UK livestock industry Brexit stakeholder group that is due to meet Farming Minister George Eustice in mid-November.