Brexit warning: 'Thousands' of farmers will go out of business without UK-EU trade deal

June 9, 2020

Britain officially left the European Union on January 31, with the focus quickly turning to the start of post-Brexit trade talks with Brussels in March. But negotiations have descended into chaos, with the two sides trading crunching blows over each other's negotiating positions and attacking the lack of "real progress" during four separate rounds of talks.

Tensions have intensified further with the UK, in particular Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, continuing to insist a trade deal must be signed before the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.

 

But key areas such as the level playing field, state aid, tax and access to the single market all still remain unresolved - with no solution in sight.

 

Following the conclusion of the fourth round of trade talks today, Mr Barnier again lamented the lack of progress being made in trade negotiations.

 

He accused the UK of continuously looking "to distance themselves" from the political declaration agreed by Mr Johnson last year.

 

Mr Barnier told a press conference in Brussels both sides are still "very far" from reaching agreement on the level playing field, nuclear safety, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism funding, and a "overarching institutional framework" for the future relationship.

 

The EU currently exports £33billion of food products to the UK each year, with Britain exporting £13.7billion of food products to the bloc, according to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

 

Mark Bridgeman, President of the membership organisation which represents 30,000 farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales, warned: “It is of great concern to farmers in the UK, and I’m sure the European Union too, that these talks are making such limited progress.

 

“The EU sells £33 billion of agricultural products to the UK each year – almost £20 billion more than we sell to them - so the Prime Minister is absolutely right to have confidence in the value of our market.

 

"But make no mistake, without a quality free trade agreement thousands of farmers both in the UK and the EU would go out of business, with all the devastation to lives and communities that go with it.

 

“We understand a degree of posturing is inevitable, but no one – on either side of the negotiating table – should forget what is at risk.

 

"We strongly encourage both sides to return to the table as quickly as possible.”

 

The UK and EU will continue talks on a post-Brexit trade deal - despite the latest round of negotiations again failing to break the deadlock.

 

Mr Barnier said there had been "no significant areas of progress" following four days of discussions by video link.

 

Source: The Express

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