Great Britain

TIME FOR ACTION: Farmers cautiously optimistic about General Election result

Though serious concerns about access to the EU market and the protection of standards in trade deals remain, farmers in England and Wales expressed hope the ‘stifling’ uncertainty of the past three years would now be brought to an end.

Beef farmer Martin Williams, Fownhope, Herefordshire, described the Conservative win as ‘positive on the whole’.

He said: “I hope this landslide majority will give them the shot in the arm which is needed to push this Brexit Withdrawal Agreement over the line, then they can start getting on to the real pressing issues affecting farmers, such as tackling bovine TB and properly funding agriculture.”

“It has been hard to plan which direction to head the business in,” he added.

North Yorkshire livestock farmer Andrew Loftus was also pleased with the result, suggesting there would be ‘far less metropolitan nonsense’ in future, as the election was won on the back of traditional northern ‘meat and two veg voters’.

Stringent

But in Scotland, where the SNP won 48 of the 59 seats up for grabs and where calls to ‘get Brexit done’ were excluded from all campaign literature, the mood was very different.

The battle north of the Scottish border was fought largely on the idea of a second independence referendum, with strong opinions on both sides.

Livestock farmer John Fyall, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, said: “I am quite sad as it means a definitive exit from Europe now.

“There will be stringent welfare policies and a deal with [President] Trump. It seems farmers want to shoot themselves in the foot.”

Mr Johnson’s first actions since the election have left others in the industry nervous too.

Legislation for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is being redrafted to block any extension of the transition period beyond December 2020, and amendments giving MPs oversight of negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal have also been dropped.

The Prime Minister’s decision to make environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith a peer so he can continue in his role as junior Defra Minister, just days after he was defeated by the Liberal Democrats in the election, has raised eyebrows too.