Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland farmers far from impressed by Boris's 'bluster' over Brexit

By Staff Reporter

Farmers have blasted Boris Johnson for his unconvincing "bluff and bluster" after the leading Brexit campaigner said they would get the same level of subsidy if the UK left the EU.

The former London mayor made the claim during an interview on BBC Countryfile.

Despite saying the level of support would remain consistent, he later conceded that he could not give a firm guarantee that farmers would get the same level of subsidies from Westminster if the UK quit the union.

Asked about increased tariffs for UK exporters such as sheep and beef farmers, Mr Johnson said "that is not going to happen, in my view" - but could offer no more than his opinion.

And questioned over whether the UK would make up the loss of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies, the Tory backbencher could offer nothing concrete. "All I can say is, I think any government would be mad not to make such a guarantee," he said.

Mr Johnson also controversially claimed the UK could leave the EU's single market but still keep full access to it - an issue that is yet to be resolved.

But South Down farmer Eamon Fitzpatrick said: "Any farmer who watched Boris Johnson come unstuck on Countryfile will have been far from impressed with the Leave campaign.

"Boris seemed like he hadn't even convinced himself with some of his arguments.

"We all know the importance of the agri-food sector to the Northern Ireland economy, the support local farming gets from the European Union and the importance of tariff-free access to the single market.

"It is becoming increasingly clear to Northern Irish farmers that when it comes to the referendum, we are stronger in."

Former NFU president Peter Kendall added: "This is typical bluff and bluster from Boris, who has failed to answer key questions that are vital to the British farming industry.

"He was unable to guarantee that farmers would receive the same support as their key competitors in the European Union.

"And he could not explain how farmers could sell tariff-free into the European Union if we left the single market."

Under the CAP, farmers receive nearly £3bn from the EU, and access to vital trade.

Belfast Telegraph