NSA statement following Commons vote to reject PMs deal

15th January 2019

Although not surprised, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is immensely frustrated by the crushing rejection of the Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit deal and the evidently poorly-managed negotiation process to date. With Parliament now dealing with a vote of no confidence, the organisation is calling for this to be dealt with urgently and to work together to quickly agree a way forward.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “It is very concerning that two and a half years after the EU referendum, and two and a half months before we leave the EU, our politicians have chosen to block the only Brexit deal we have on the table – and that now the Government’s future has been thrown into question. All the preparation went into the proposed deal and it was the only thing on the table that offered British agriculture any kind of confidence. Right now the only thing we know is that we are heading closer and closer to a no deal, something we know would be extremely damaging for sheep farming and for our wider agricultural industry. Who knows what will emerge over the next few days and weeks, but it is unacceptable that businesses don’t have a clue about the framework they will be working within in some 80 days’ time. This is not an acceptable situation and NSA will continue do everything in its power to keep driving the dangers home to MPs.”

In the case of a no deal scenario, NSA has been highlighting the potential for a huge loss of export markets with some 35% of British lamb currently going overseas and the vast majority of that (96%) being solf into the EU. Rejecting the deal adds to the likelihood of a no deal Brexit, which would lead to an immediate closure of trade with the EU that could last for months, before trade may re-open but with high tariffs applied.

Mr Stocker continues: “A no deal would result in the immediate loss of EU access, with no alternative options, and would cause immense disruption to our markets for months – if not longer. When re-established, adding a tariff to the cost of production would be very worrying for UK producers who already produce at a high cost to meet the UK’s world leading welfare standards. There is potential for tariffs to be as high as 50% of the value and, while we may see a fall in sterling ,it would not be enough to offset higher export costs. If this situation comes about we could see a sharp decline in the national flock, with few alternatives for many grassland farmers, and the loss of the infrastructure that supports our industry.

“No one should be fooled into thinking we are protecting our industry for its own sake. Our sheep farmers are producing highly nutritious food for the nation, the most sustainable fibre on the planet, as well as keeping our countryside and rural communities they way most people like them. Agriculture and sheep farming is of national interest and now is the time for MPs to start providing us with answers.”