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Rural leaders reiterate fears of no-deal Brexit

Scotland’s sheep sector would be severely impacted if the UK fails to agree a withdrawal deal with Europe.
Scotland’s sheep sector would be severely impacted if the UK fails to agree a withdrawal deal with Europe.

The failure of Westminster politicians to agree on an EU withdrawal plan prompted most rural leaders to reiterate their fears of a no-deal scenario and repeat familiar demands for frictionless trade with Europe, equivalence in the standard of imports and access to seasonal and permanent workers.

However, landowners organisation, Scottish Lands and Estates (SLE), broke ranks over the impact of a no-deal outcome.

SLE executive director, Sarah-Jane Laing, said: “While the call to avoid a no-deal Brexit is widely accepted, we must acknowledge that every scenario presents various pros and cons for land-based businesses in Scotland, and our membership has diverse views on which scenario provides the best future for our sector.

“The rural community has shown itself to be resilient, flexible and innovative for countless generations and we have every confidence that will continue to be the case in the face of uncertainty or challenges. There was already a strong argument for significant change in our sector long before Brexit, and that remains the case.”

Meanwhile NFU Scotland (NFUS) remained unequivocal in its view that a no-deal Brexit should be avoided at all costs, and the National Sheep Association (NSA) highlighted the risk of losing export markets for more than 35% of British lamb, the majority of which (96%) is sold to the EU.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “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.

“They already produce at a high cost to meet the UK’s world leading welfare standards.”

nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk

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