NSA cautiously embraces draft Brexit deal, and encourages MPs to back the plan

15th November 2018

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is cautiously assessing the proposed Brexit deal, which it hopes will deliver some much-needed stability for the future of the sheep industry.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “The document is some 585 pages long, so we have yet to have a chance to explore the full extent. It will take the coming weeks of discussions to really understand the full proposals, but it seems to give some degree of certainty, at least in the short term, and allows people to plan and prepare for the future. This deal would keep us from the cliff edge in March 2019 that we have been warning would decimate our industry.”

NSA is calling for MPs to accept this proposal to provide stability for food producers, and to consider the benefits of this agreement in the longer term. Political instability is evident but it’s not what this country needs right now.

Mr Stocker continues: “Our understanding is that this deal would allow us to continue with negotiating trade deals outside of the EU, giving us more time before we begin to move further away from the EU after the agreed transition period. To what extent the UK will be conceding to following European Union rules without having a say on what they are remains to be seen and we would expect Defra to release specific information on this in the coming days, but this deal does provide a level of stability.  I think it would be in the interest of our industry for MPs to get behind this agreement and then make the most of what can be achieved in the longer term. This deal would essentially allow the UK more time to build on its future relationship with the EU rather than the danger of leaving with nothing in four months’ time.”

NSA argue that this deal would also allow more time for development of the Agriculture Bill.  Mr Stocker comments: “The Government would continue work on the Bill and this deal would allow more breathing space for policy makers and industry to work together to reduce the risks of such a monumental change. The work done to date will not have been wasted and it would mean that our agriculture policy transition period or two years would hardly be affected at all.”

NSA will continue to study the agreement and will continue to push for the best outcome for sheep producers in the UK. Mr Stocker says: “During this Brexit process we have seen a refreshing injection of energy, and the embryo of a new culture within Government and its departments, including Defra, along with a new approach to Government and industry working together. Whatever happens with Brexit there is no reason why this shouldn’t continue.”