Farmer’s fears as climate change debate neglected in ‘one issue’ Brexit election

East Anglian farmers' leaders want to know how EU trade and the climate change issue will be tackled

East Anglian farmers' leaders want to know how EU trade and the climate change issue will be tackled by prime minister Boris Johnson's newly-elected government Picture: YUI MOK/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

A senior Suffolk farmer said he was “extremely alarmed” that the Brexit issue had dominated the general election – at the expense of climate change.

Suffolk NFU county chairman Glenn Buckingham. Picture: BRIAN FINNERTY

Suffolk NFU county chairman Glenn Buckingham. Picture: BRIAN FINNERTY - Credit: Archant

As East Anglian farmers took stock of prime minister Boris Johnson's thumping electoral victory - and mandate for Brexit - Glenn Buckingham, chair of the Suffolk branch of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said the biggest single issue facing us had been neglected in the election debate.

As UK voters cast their ballot, United Nations climate talks in Madrid entered their final stages with splits emerging as negotiators try to get a deal which would see countries commit to make new climate pledges by the end of 2020.

Mr Buckingham - a strong advocate for tackling climate change who farms at Helmingham, near Debenham, said: "I am extremely alarmed that Brexit was the dominating issue for the election, when the biggest single issue facing us is climate chaos.

"I think we should all keep an ear on the news from Madrid and any commentary we hear from other sources of the impact we are having collectively on the planet that sustains and learn to change our behaviour - our new government must lead on this."

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NFU East Anglia regional director Rachel Carrington raised a series of questions over Britain's future trading arrangements - an area of major concern for many UK farmers - and said it was essential the newly-elected government delivered on this crucial area for farmers.

"This result means there should be an end to the political paralysis we've seen over Brexit but the key question for East Anglia's farm businesses is what happens next?" she said.

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"Will our high standards of production be protected in future trade policy? Will those businesses have access to a skilled and competent workforce to help grow our food? Will we still have free and frictionless trade with the European Union (EU), by far our biggest export market?"

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) regional director Cath Crowther said many would breathe a sigh of relief that the result at least brings a degree of political certainty.

"But for all the claims of 'getting Brexit done' the idea that Brexit ends on January 31 is wrong," she said.

"Assuming we leave the EU soon, we will have less than a year to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with Europe or else once again No Deal is back on the table. This time-frame is hugely optimistic."

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