Downing Street’s insistence that the Prime Minister continues to rule out membership of any sort of EU customs union has disappointed NFU Scotland.
Mrs May’s office apparently felt compelled to make her position clear after weekend speculation that she was softening her opposition to such an arrangement.
Scott Walker, NFUS chief executive said Mrs May’s position took no account of farming or food production.
“Trade with Europe is important to us, as are the trade agreements that Europe already has in place with countries around the world. Continued membership of the customs union would allow us to keep frictionless free trade with Europe while allowing us access to important world markets on terms that recognise the importance of maintaining domestic food production,” said Mr Walker.
“Australia, New Zealand and the USA are all countries that the UK Government has indicated as post-Brexit target markets for free trade agreements and all will wish increased market access for their food producers on their terms. Farming in this country must not be sold out for an ideological view.
“While today’s statement wasn’t a surprise, it was an opportunity for the UK Government to take a more proactive approach in recognition of its ongoing consultation with industry – they have chosen not to do so.
Speaking from Brussels, where he was attending EU-wide discussions on beef, the NFUS livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam said: “We want to see future trading arrangements as close to the current arrangements as possible post-Brexit.
“Leaving the customs union could open us up to lower standard imports, such as hormone-treated beef, if the UK decided to diverge from existing EU trade restrictions. These are restrictions which the EU single market can maintain because of its size and market unity.
“It’s clear that any option other than a customs union could see the imposition of non-tariff barriers, such as border checks, and these could be severely detrimental to the trade in fresh food.
Published by our sister company Farmers Guardian. Follow their Brexit hub for all the latest updates.