Responding to last night’s announcement by EU leaders who have offered to delay Brexit until 22 May if MPs approve Theresa May's deal next week, NFU President Minette Batters said: “While we are relieved that it appears farm businesses will be spared the worst of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March, it is clear that last night’s agreement on delaying Article 50 merely delays, rather than eliminates, the possibility of leaving without a deal. That prospect remains a reality, perhaps in as little as three weeks’ time on 12 April.
“The Prime Minister and Parliament have been given a brief window to find a way to ensure we leave the EU in an orderly fashion at the end of May. We urge them to seize this opportunity without hesitation, and to identify the concessions they will all need to accommodate to finally take no-deal off the table. In particular, the short extension agreed by the EU must be used immediately to resolve the current impasse. British farming, along with wider British business, has been left in an intolerable situation of extreme uncertainty with no clarity as to what our future trading relationship with the EU would have been like in just a matter of days’ time. So, while this extension provides a short respite, it would be unforgiveable and grossly irresponsible for Government and Parliament to leave us in the same, damaging situation we have experienced in recent days.
“A no-deal exit from the EU would be disastrous for British farming and food production and should be avoided at all costs. The continued uncertainty is now proving extremely damaging to our farmers and growers and wider UK industry and the lack of clarity about whether we leave with a deal or not is totally unacceptable.”