Farmers' Union of Wales President Glyn Roberts has written to Prime Minister Theresa May warning that preparations should be made for EU parliamentary elections in May to avoid taking options off the table which are in our nations' interest.
The call comes following reports that the Prime Minister had written to the EU seeking an extension to the Article 50 period until 30 June. However, details of a leaked internal EU diplomatic memo published by the Independent online suggests that the leaders of the 27 Member States who must approve any extension period will have to choose either a short extension to before May 23, or a long delay until at least the end of the year.
The memo states that an extension until 30 June "...would entail serious legal and political risks for the European Union and would import some of the current uncertainties in the United Kingdom into the EU27” and that “Any extension offered to the United Kingdom should either last until 23 May 2019 or should be significantly longer and require European elections.”
Mr Roberts’ letter states that while the FUW supports the revocation of Article 50 in order to take full control over the Brexit process, and allow it to take place over a safe and realistic timescale, “...if a short delay is agreed by the EU but Parliament again finds itself unable to reach agreement in the weeks leading up to the new deadline, we may have no choice but to leave the EU without an agreement if we have not made the necessary preparations for the European Parliament elections in May.”
Mr Roberts acknowledges that there “...may be mechanisms by which to overcome ...[the problems of having to hold an MEP election]...such as rolling over the representation of current MEPs, but given that the EU requires notifying of candidates and arrangements in the coming weeks, we believe it is essential that preparations should be made for a possible European Parliament election in May.”
He goes on to say: “Failure to do this is likely to take one or more of the future op
If you or someone you know, under the age of 40, is running a rural business in Pembrokeshire, if you farm in your own right or provide a service to the agricultural sector, run a cake making business, electrical or plumbing services, crafts, music teaching or food processing, then the FUW Countryside Business Award could be just the thing for you.
To be eligible for the award the individual must be 40 years of age or under on 1 January 2019 and be actively involved in a business based in rural Pembrokeshire. The deadline for entries is Friday 31 May 2019.
A £200 cash prize, perpetual trophy and a year’s free membership will be awarded to the winner.
“There are a host of fantastic businesses in rural Pembrokeshire who all do a great job in keeping the wheel of our rural economy turning. With the award we want to recognise the fantastic work our young people do to keep the rural areas of Pembrokeshire vibrant and economically active places.
The Farmers' Union of Wales has written to the UK Treasury asking for clarification after the UK Government published no-deal Brexit proposals which appear to fly in the face of World Trade Organisation rules.
According to the UK Government's website, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, tariffs and Tariff Rate Quotas would apply to a range of products, but "...The UK’s temporary import tariffs will...not apply to goods crossing from Ireland into Northern Ireland."
Speaking after a meeting of Committee Chairs and Vice Presidents, FUW Head of Policy Nick Fenwick said: "Press reports that tariffs would be charged for a variety of imported goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit except those crossing from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland have caused all sorts of confusion, and were assumed to be down to a misinterpretation by reporters.
"However, the Government website states clearly that this would be the case."
Dr Fenwick said that this appeared to fly in the face of World Trade Organisation and EU rules.
"If the Government said it was going to apply tariffs to all imports except those entering the UK from Germany, without any form of trade deal in place, this would clearly be a breach of WTO rules. It would also go against the rules of the EU because Germany is in the Single Market.
The FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee has described Welsh Government plans to introduce a pan-Wales ‘NVZ’ type regulations as disastrous for the sector, especially in light of Brexit uncertainty.
Speaking after the meeting on Thursday (March 14 ), FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee chairman Dai Miles said: “We have considered the plans in detail, and delegates are outraged that the Welsh Government want to introduce such reems of restrictions, rules and paperwork.
“These plans will affect farms, especially the smaller family farms, who carry out good practise and will incur extra cost through no fault of their own. It is painting the whole industry with the same brush when actually there is only a small minority at fault.”
Mr Miles said that as farmers were becoming increasingly aware of the plans, anger was rising within the industry that such a draconian approach was even being considered, especially at a time when all the figures suggest Wales’ agriculture industry could be the worst affected by Brexit.
“The fact that such a draconian blanket approach is being planned goes against the Welsh Government's commitment in December 2017 to strike ‘the right balance of comprehensive regulatory measures, voluntary measures and investment’ and ‘...explore further options to provide land managers with flexibility, where these would achieve the same or better outcomes than a regulatory approach,” he said.
The 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act must be amended to allow the revocation of Article 50 in order to reflect Parliament’s rejection of a no-deal Brexit , the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has said.
Speaking after a no-deal Brexit contingency planning meeting with Welsh Government officials, FUW Head of Policy Nick Fenwick said: “The FUW has argued for Article 50 to be revoked to allow time for an orderly Brexit since mid January.
“Now that Parliament has rejected leaving the EU without a deal, the relevant legislation must be amended to reflect this view and cater for all possible eventualities - including needing to revoke Article 50 in order to respect the view of Parliament.”
Dr Fenwick said that the 29th March 2019 deadline in the legislation should be removed, and that merely replacing it with another ‘cliff edge date’ in a few months time would be short sighted and not reflect the dangers.
“So long as the Withdrawal Act stands we are set to leave the European Union, so claims that this would go against the vote to leave the EU are false.
“Those who have persuaded the general public that the Brexit process that can be gone through in a couple of years without major risks to jobs, businesses and the economy have been unrealistic and misled Brexiteers about the reality of a safe timetable.
“We now need the Act to be amended to restore us to a realistic and safe timetable,” he added.
Tariff rates published by the UK Government today highlight the need for MP’s to vote against a no-deal Brexit, the FUW has said.
Speaking shortly after the tariff rates were published by the UK Government, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “While some of the tariffs that would be in place in the event of a no deal are welcome, others are extremely concerning for a wide range of industries and of course UK tariffs are only half of the equation. We must also consider that this would apply to our exports to the EU, which will be charged at full EU levels in the event of a no deal.”
Mr Roberts said that EU tariffs would have a devastating impact on many UK exporters and in particular the sheep sector.
“The combination of tariffs and a no-deal Brexit would also sever thousands of established supply chains causing unprecedented disruption.”
In light of such concerns the FUW has reiterated its call for Parliament to reject a no-deal Brexit under all circumstances.
“It would be grossly irresponsible for us to deliberately or inadvertently leave the EU without a deal. With just 16 days to go it is imperative that the legislation is changed to make exiting the EU without a deal impossible and a lengthy extension to Article 50 should be sought. As we have said repeatedly the best mechanism for doing this is to revoke Article 50,” he said.
Mr Roberts’ comments came as many spokesmen across the EU set out varied demands and views about the terms under which they would grant the UK an extension in the next 2 weeks.
“Revoking Article 50 is something we can do unilaterally without negotiation with and agreement from other member states, and it’s the only safe solution to the terrifying situation our businesses and economy are now facing.”