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Exiting European Union would increase not reduce amount of money the UK could spend on farming

letter of the day: brexit debate

Published 13/05/2016

The speech by Dr Len O'Hagan (Comment, May 9) was particularly disjointed and evaded many truths. I hope his Dublin audience recognised this; certainly, here in Northern Ireland and in the UK it is obvious.

Dr O'Hagan at times speaks as if Northern Ireland is a member of the EU. But it is the UK and, therefore, a UK referendum.

There will not be parochial debate in other regions of the UK and it is time that Dr O'Hagan thought in terms of the UK, as what is good for the UK is good for Northern Ireland.

He states that 44% of UK exports are to the EU. Actually, it is now 40% - and still falling. But he avoids mentioning that the EU exports twice as much to the UK as the UK exports to the EU. This, in itself, emphasises that the EU would not wish to create trade barriers with the UK (and, therefore, no trade barriers at the Irish border).

Dr O'Hagan claims that farmers would lose EU subsidies. Of course they would, but there is the prospect of even greater support for farmers outside the EU.

Once again, he avoided mentioning that we send £20bn per year to Brussels, of which the EU retains £10bn and only sends £3.8bn back to our farmers.

Brexit would mean that the Treasury would have available an extra £10bn to increase funding for the health service, the block grant for Stormont and even greater subsidies for our farmers - and this they need, due to the collapse of farm prices overseen, at present, by ... the EU.

Both Norway and Switzerland, by remaining outside the EU, now give greater subsidies to their farmers than the EU gives to its farmers.

I love Europe. I campaigned strongly for the UK to remain in the Common Market. I spent 17 years in Strasbourg as an MEP and then in the Council of Europe.

But as well as Europe, I love Northern Ireland and increasingly I am concluding that our best interests may well be outside the EU.

LORD KILCLOONEY

House of Lords

Belfast Telegraph

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