Farm Ireland

Monday 25 March 2019

Hogan slams Rees-Mogg suggestion UK should slap tariffs on Irish beef

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg

Sarah Collins

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has hit out at comments that Irish beef should be made a bargaining chip in a Brexit deal.

UK MP Jacob Rees-Mogg called for the valuable Irish trade to be hit with tariffs.He urged Theresa May to increase the  pressure on the EU by warning of the knock-on impact of a no-deal Brexit for the Irish economy in particular.

However, Mr Hogan told the Seanad that a landing zone involving some form of customs arrangement must be in the best interests of all concerned.

“The recent statement by Jacob Rees-Mogg in relation to Irish beef is a good example of a comment that is both unhelpful and irresponsible,”  said Mr Hogan.

“His comments highlight that the rift between the Brexiteers and Remainers risks going on and on.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg has described Theresa May’s preferred plan for a post-Brexit customs deal with the EU is “completely cretinous”,.

The arch-Eurosceptic branded the proposal for a customs partnership – under which Britain would collect EU import tariffs on behalf of Brussels – “a betrayal of common sense”.

The attack came as Mr Rees-Mogg, a rising favourite of Tory members to succeed Ms May, described her approach to the Brexit negotiations as “enigmatic”.

He argued that the UK “should ratchet up the pressure” on the EU in the talks by threatening to not pay the £39bn “divorce bill” – while highlighting the effect on the Irish economy of no trade deal.

“If we were to apply the common external tariff on Irish beef, the Irish agricultural industry is in serious trouble,” the backbencher said.

“You’ve got to ask the EU: does it want to sacrifice the economy of Ireland on the altar of EU ideology? I my guess is that the answer is no, and therefore we are in a very strong negotiating position.”

Mr Rees-Mogg played down his prospects of becoming prime minister – but, notably, did not rule it out.

“When the Conservative Party is in government, the prime minister always comes from a senior government position and that is a perfectly sensible state of affairs,” he said.

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