Belfast Telegraph

Farmer who appeared in DUP campaign regrets Brexit vote

Charlie Weir said he now regrets voting for Brexit
Charlie Weir said he now regrets voting for Brexit

A farmer who appeared in a DUP election broadcast has said he now regrets voting to leave the EU.

Charlie Weir, from Waringstown, Co Down, said he fears that agriculture in Northern Ireland will be "decimated" if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Speaking to the BBC, he also said he supports the backstop for Northern Ireland, describing it as "the best of both worlds".

Mr Weir was featured in the party election broadcast before the Westminster election in 2017.

Speaking in the broadcast the DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "Farmers, like Charlie, know the opportunities leaving the European Union will present as well as acknowledging the challenges.

"Only the DUP can secure the best deal for Northern Ireland as we leave the European Union."

Mr Weir acknowledged he voted leave in the 2016 referendum but said he know believes he "didn't know the full story"

Charlie Weir said he supports the idea of a backstop for Northern Ireland
Charlie Weir said he supports the idea of a backstop for Northern Ireland

"And now if I was to vote again, I'd vote to remain, personally, from an agricultural point of view.

"Here in Northern Ireland, for example, we receive £300m in CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) funding from Europe and if farmers weren't getting that money they couldn't survive.

"Farmers would be at a loss."

Mr Weir said he had listened to the "stories that were told about the big red bus and all the extra money there was going to be for the health service and I thought that we could probably get a better deal".

However, he no longer believes the UK will get a deal.

"I don't think there's going to be a deal at the minute and if we leave with a hard Brexit, I think that agriculture will be decimated.

"I think the only option left for the government at the minute is to go for an extension until they're in a position to sort things out, whether that [is] with Boris going for an election and getting a government that he can actually control with the power to vote things through."

He said he supports the DUP on 90% of its policies but not Brexit.

"I think the backstop is being overplayed big time, " he said.

"I don't see a big problem with the backstop. In fact, the backstop would have been good and it would have meant the best of both worlds.

"You'd have countries wanting to invest in Northern Ireland so that they would have traded with Europe and the UK.

"It would have brought a lot of inward investment and would have made Northern Ireland a very rich and wealthy country," he said.

"The DUP are completely against the backstop. I, on the other hand, don't believe the backstop would have any effect on the union because... if there's going to to be an change to the union there has to be a vote."

A DUP spokesperson said: "The DUP does not want to see the UK leave the European Union without a deal, but continues to work towards an agreement allowing a sensible and managed exit.

"The backstop seeks to facilitate north-south trade, but does so by creating barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain where we sell and trade three quarters of all our goods," they said.

"The backstop has been rejected on three occasions by Parliament and a new agreement is needed which can command support from both unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland."

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