Many hundreds of constituents continue to contact me regarding Brexit.
I always appreciate constituents informing me of where they stand on an issue and take every one very seriously.
With specific regard to a second referendum, this matter has been put before the house twice, and rejected on both occasions.
I spoke last Thursday (17th October) in the House of Commons of the importance of obtaining a deal to enable us the UK to leave the EU in an orderly way (relevant extract of which can be found below) and for this reason I am supporting the Prime Minister’s European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) European Union Bill presented in Parliament yesterday for consideration this week.
Hansard - Thursday 17th October - Fiona Bruce
“It was encouraging that at the very outset of the Queen’s Speech the Government committed to seize the opportunities for agriculture that will arise from leaving the European Union. Cheshire farmers support the Government’s endeavours to obtain a good deal, but are deeply concerned about the possibility of no deal. They are concerned in particular about three areas: tariffs, welfare standards and farm labour. They want a deal to end the current uncertainty. An egg manufacturer in Congleton has bought in extra packaging three times now due to uncertainty. So they and I very much support the Prime Minister in his endeavours to achieve a deal.
With regard to tariffs, the UK dairy industry produces 14 billion litres of milk a year, of which 3.25 billion litres are exported to the EU. A dairy farmer said that if a deal cannot be achieved and milk exported to the EU attracts a tariff of around 40% while imported milk could attract no tariff at all, this would be unsustainable, saturating our milk markets and risking a collapse in milk prices. This could result in a milk price reduction of 1p or more per litre, which could cost a dairy farmer £20,000 a year—the difference between survival and closure.
The tariff on eggs being exported from the UK into Europe could be 19% in the event of no deal, whereas there would be no tariff on imports. An egg producer in my constituency fears a major flood on to the market of eggs, particularly dried eggs and eggs in products, which constitute almost 50% of egg sales and may not have been produced to the high welfare standards we have in this country. Farmers locally are saying the proposed tariffs could be damaging not only to farmers’ livelihoods but to consumers’ health if imports are not up to UK standards.
On the issue of farm labour, there is already a shortage of workers, for example in horticultural businesses. Farmers are concerned that the situation will be exacerbated unless it is addressed. Already, some horticultural crops cannot be harvested.
The pressure of those concerns and the current uncertainty is impacting on farmers’ mental health. Farmers are our strongest environmentalists; without them we simply would not have the environment we enjoy, and it is interesting that the National Farmers Union target year for net zero carbon is 2040, not 2050. Government working together with farmers will be key to achieving such environmental targets, and farmers want to do so. Will Ministers meet me and Cheshire farmers to discuss that?”