Farmers and forking out for Brexit
Sir, – Lord Kilclooney (August 17th) might be interested to learn that the UK gets a third of its food supply from Ireland. So, unless it wants to risk a serious food shortage, it is in the UK’s best interests to ensure the continuation of smooth trade relations with, and within, this island.
Figures from the think-tank Policy Exchange show that 87 per cent of UK farm income comes from subsidies. However, the British secretary of state for rural affairs, Michael Gove, has announced plans to axe the equivalent of Pillar 1 funding under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2022. Pillar 1 support makes up 80 per cent of British farm subsidies. After Brexit, the Tory government is committed to linking farm income support exclusively to environmental objectives. This is Pillar 2 under the CAP and makes up the remaining 20 per cent of farm subsidies.
This, coupled with the Leave campaign’s immediate retreat from promises to boost the NHS through the savings made by Brexit, makes it clear there is no appetite within the current UK government to use this extra cash to shore up vital industries and services.
This is contrary to Lord Kilclooney’s claims, highlighting the need for journalists to challenge politicians’ empty rhetoric. Failure to do this before the Brexit referendum is, after all, strongly believed to have caused the Leave victory. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It seems to have slipped Lord Kilclooney’s mind that the money saved by the UK leaving the European Union has already been promised by Boris Johnson to the NHS. He never mentioned Northern Ireland’s farmers. Surprisingly. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Lord Kilclooney’s letter neatly sums up the unreality of Brexit. The most recent analysis by the Financial Times puts the UK exit liabilities at a net €75 billion. It will be some considerable time before there is any change out of the £20 billion Lord Kilclooney talks about, and NI farmers will not be a priority after the bills are paid.
As regards the challenges facing Irish agricultural exports to the UK, they arise because of the dramatic fall in the value of sterling in the context of post-referendum uncertainty. Irish exporters have met these currency challenges before and will do so again.
Sterling has devalued by over 13 per cent, and it is now at a 31 year low and could lose its place in the top tier of reserve currencies, without any improvement in the UK’s trade deficit but with a sharp rise in domestic inflation.
I would suggest that these are issues that Lord Kilclooney should be more concerned with rather than predicting gloom and doom for Irish exporters. – Yours, etc,