Farm Ireland

Sunday 16 December 2018

Theresa May visits Northern Ireland farmers to discuss Brexit- one year ahead of UK's EU exit

Prime Minister Theresa May is shown around Fairview Farm in Bangor, Northern Ireland, during a tour of the four nations of the UK (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May is shown around Fairview Farm in Bangor, Northern Ireland, during a tour of the four nations of the UK (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Prime Minister Theresa May has visited Northern Ireland as part of a flying tour of the UK exactly one year ahead of Brexit.

Mrs May visited a dairy farm owned by the Jackson family in Bangor on Thursday afternoon.

Sitting down for lunch in the farmhouse with representatives of the Ulster Farmers' Union, she heard of concerns within the agriculture industry about Brexit's potential to impact on the free flow of goods across the Irish border.

Farmers' representatives also stressed that they did not want a new border created in the Irish sea, obstructing important trade links with Great Britain.

Mrs May told the farmers Brexit presented opportunities.

"I think one of the things that will come out of Brexit is the opportunity for agriculture here but across the UK to really - out of the CAP (EU's Common Agricultural Policy) - to set our own way of doing things," she said.

Mrs May visited Ayrshire in Scotland earlier, and Newcastle before coming to Northern Ireland.

She left our shores to head to Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, and will finish her day-long tour in west London.

The UK is set to leave the EU at 11pm on March 29, 2019.

Mrs May’s all-day plane trip comes amid polling suggesting the UK remains deeply divided over Brexit, but has little appetite for a second referendum on the issue.

One survey this week recorded a 53%-47% lead for continued EU membership. But 65% in a new ComRes poll for the Daily Express said they did not want a second referendum and 68% said that Remain voters should respect the will of the majority who backed Brexit.

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused the Government of being in “chaos” over Brexit, following a series of defeats in the House of Lords on its flagship EU Withdrawal Bill.

Mr McDonnell played down suggestions from Emily Thornberry that Labour would “probably” support the deal obtained by Mrs May in a Commons vote this autumn, saying that the shadow foreign secretary was being “sarcastic”.

Former prime minister Tony Blair urged Mrs May to offer a free vote in the Commons on the final Brexit deal, telling the Independent that if she did not, Labour and Tory MPs should be ready to vote with their conscience and rebel.

And Mr Blair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “more likely we can stop (Brexit) now than it was a few months ago”.

Scottish National Party spokesman Michael Russell accused Mrs May of planning a “power grab” by repatriating some responsibilities currently exercised in Brussels to Westminster rather than Edinburgh.

“By pursuing a disastrous hard Brexit, regardless of the cost to jobs and living standards, Theresa May and the Tories have shown they think they can now do anything to Scotland and get away with it,” said Mr Russell.

But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that “a glorious view awaits” Britain when it finally quits the EU.

Writing in the Express, Mr Johnson said: “Like an unstoppable express, we are heading for Brexit and frankly, my friends, we can’t arrive soon enough.”

Speaking in Ayr, Mrs May said: “I believe we can negotiate a good agreement which is tariff-free and as frictionless trade as possible, so we maintain those markets in the EU, but also that we open up markets around the rest of the world.

“Brexit provides us with opportunities. I want to see us coming together, the four nations across the United Kingdom.

“We have a very strong union, that is in our interests and it is in our interests to come together and really seize these opportunities for the future.”

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