The NFU has welcomed Theresa May’s promise to MPs that they will have a vote on delaying Brexit or ruling out no-deal if they reject her deal next month.
The Prime Minister has promised MPs a meaningful vote on her Brexit deal by 12 March, effectively conceding for the first time that Brexit could take place after 29 March.
Responding to the news that there could be an extension of Article 50 if May’s Brexit deal is voted down on March 12, NFU president Minette Batters said: “The NFU has always maintained that leaving the EU without a deal would be a catastrophe for British farming.”
May’s announcement “does lessen the chances of leaving with no deal 16 days later on March 29,” she said. “However, any extension of Article 50 does not take ‘no deal’ off the table completely, it would simply delay the exit date. “
She vowed at last night’s City Food Lecture to come out “all guns blazing” if the government doesn’t take no deal off the table on 12 March.
Batters noted that if Brexit is delayed, any extension is unlikely to be lengthy and there would continue to be “no certainty” for British farmers as to what the UK’s trading relationship with the EU would look like after this date.
“I maintain it is unacceptable for British businesses, including farmers, to be in this position,” she said. "It is vital that, if there is to be an extension, time is spent productively by parliament in delivering a deal which will work for Britain.
“Simply delaying Article 50 and the associated uncertainty is not going to help British farmers and food producers – and wider British business - by itself.”