Belfast Telegraph

Brexit: Farmers call for MPs to unite to avoid EU crash-out

UFU president Ivor Ferguson
UFU president Ivor Ferguson
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

The Ulster Farmers' Union has said it's "intensely frustrated" with the impasse over Brexit as it repeated its call for MPs to unite around a single option for an orderly departure from the EU.

It said a disorderly Brexit would be the "worst possible outcome" for beef and lamb producers here.

And it added that it was "crucial" MPs take the steps necessary to agree a way forward.

The comments came as the DUP said it was committed to respecting the result of the referendum after MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP told the BBC on Wednesday night that a customs union with the EU might be a "temporary staging post" towards the UK being able to conclude its own trade deals.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said: "We, alongside our UK farming union counterparts, have urged MPs to unite around a single option for an orderly Brexit.

"There are a number of options on the table and we are intensely frustrated at the continuing impasse over the UK's departure from the EU.

"It is crucial MPs take the steps necessary to agree a way forward and avoid a no-deal Brexit.

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"From the outset we have stressed the importance of finding a solution that allows the long standing trade relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to continue with minimal disruption."

Seamus Leheny, general manager of the Freight Transport Association, said he welcomed Mr Donaldson's comments.

"All MPs and their parties are having to consider various options, some of which may not have been considered before," he said.

"It's this state of confusion and bartering in Parliament that is leading many MPs, including Mr Donaldson, to consider various options and some may be higher in the agenda than others.

"The one thing our members and the wider economy here is saying is that it is vital a no-deal is avoided, therefore we welcome any MPs considering alternative options to avoid this calamity."

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said: "For us, we agree a sensible Brexit is required. What is nonsensical is a no-deal exit.

"Firms and farmers are united on that and we haven't moved from that position.

"We have a week now to avoid that calamity and it's up to every MP, not just those from home, to ensure that we don't destroy businesses by lumping huge sums of additional costs and closing off markets."

Federation of Small Businesses NI policy chair Tina McKenzie called for "pragmatism" from politicians, adding: "Small businesses in Northern Ireland would be most affected by a crash-out Brexit, so it is crucial that agreement is reached."

Belfast Telegraph