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For Polly Toynbee- But The Destruction Of UK Farming Is Exactly How Brexit Was Sold

Polly Toynbee tells us that a Brexit to full on free trade would be the death of the current system of British farming. She’s entirely right, it would be. She also tells us that this wasn’t how Brexit was sold – which is her error. For this is exactly how it was sold. I do in fact know this, I was one of the people doing the selling. And I’ve been shouting for well over a decade now that a major benefit of Brexit would be that we could repeal our modern day Corn Laws and all enjoy substantially cheaper food.

In short, Leave the EU in order to bugger the farmers.

This isn’t an error or a side effect, it’s the point. Which is why this is wrong:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Now there are varying views available on all this. Patrick Minford, the Brexiteers’ favoured economist, wants shops flooded with cheap imports floating free on global commodities markets, unfettered by regulatory checks, with no tariffs or protection for home produce. Cheap food, promised by Jacob Rees-Mogg, will please consumers and Minford is sanguine about farmers, fishers and most British manufacturers going to the wall. That’s a price worth paying, a valid trade-off for market extremists, who are careless about food security, happy for us to grow nothing ourselves, leaving us wholly dependent on world markets. Minfordites are untouched by the romance of farming or the pull of manufacturing – shrugging them off as relatively small parts of the economy. Finance and services are the only future.[/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]But that was not the vision sold to the public by Brexiteers at the 2016 referendum. If it was their secret ideology, it was kept hidden from voters who backed Brexit.[/perfectpullquote]

It wasn’t a secret. Minford wrote and published a whole damn book on the point. People like me went around going “Good, yes, that’ll work!” as we contemplated British farming righteously going bust.

We’ve not kept any of this quiet Polly, this is part of the point of the entire exercise. To do a New Zealand on the farmers’ arses.

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Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt
4 years ago

Will UK agriculture really be destroyed by a WTO Brexit? Certainly the sector will be operating under different conditions, but surely adaptation will occur. The disappearance of the exorbitantly high EU tariff on coco might increase demand for cream (to make chocolate ice cream obviously) thereby making herding Jersey cows more profitable. Exporting opportunities for high value items, such as matured Cheddar and Stilton, may very well open up, the USA perhaps unknowingly is in desperate need of good cheese. When it comes to fishing things are more obviously rosy (if HMG don’t give in to French pressure to allow… Read more »

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
4 years ago
Reply to  Leo Savantt

And don’t CAP subsidies (eventually) accrue to the land owner? Most farmers are tenants, and the ones that aren’t are easily wealthy enough to handle the removal of subsidies.

Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt
4 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

The subsidies are for both production and non-production, i.e. not actually farming. I suppose both tenants and owners benefit, but larger land owners naturally benefit the most.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
4 years ago
Reply to  Leo Savantt

Yes, but I was assuming that rents for farmland are set taking into account all the subsidies and costs associated with farming it (as is argued for retail shops and rates). If subsidies fall by £1,000 an acre, so will rents (in the long term).

Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt
4 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

I understand that DEFRA will match the subsidies presently being distributed under CAP by the EC. So at least in the short term not much change.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
4 years ago
Reply to  Leo Savantt

That’s my understanding, too. When NZ eliminated all farming subsidies, they ran a 5-year taper. Personally, I think there ought to be incentives for farming in a way that is deemed socially appropriate, particularly where that imposes additional costs.

Q46
Q46
4 years ago

A large chunk of UK agriculture was destroyed after UK joined the EEC, which had as a priority protecting inefficient agriculture in France and Italy, and protecting the small family farms Germany still had at the time. Continued membership of the protectionist EU does it no favours.

And it virtually wiped out UK fishing industry.

Some have short/no/selective memories or ignorance.

Davidsb
Davidsb
4 years ago

…Patrick Minford,,, wants shops flooded with cheap imports… unfettered by regulatory checks…

Did the delightful Ms Toynbee specify exactly when and where Mr Minford stated his desire to remove all regulatory checks from imported foodstuffs?

Or did she just make this up?

Phoenix44
Phoenix44
4 years ago

Sod the poor, subsidise the landowners cried the Left.

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