U.K. farmers will lose in Brexit move

Across the centuries, Great Britain has given the world many things uniquely British — the Puritans, Andrew Carnegie, the Beatles.

However, on June 23, it gave the world another significant gift: a big step into the dark abyss of a go-it-alone future in today’s ever-globalizing world.

Sure, most of the United Kingdom’s citizens who voted late last month to the leave the European Union had what they thought were good reasons to do so: an incoming tide of mostly poor, often-illegal immigrants; a costly, decidedly Europe-centred Common Agricultural Policy; an ever-growing bureaucracy in Brussels and a river of English money flowing out of the U.K. and only a trickle of EU funds flowing back in.

However, with the step taken, the “Leaves” have now discovered an unpleasant truth: their politicians didn’t tell them the whole truth about leaving.

In fact, much that was said was not true.

For example:

  • Most of the U.K.’s record setting 270,000 immigrants last year were EU citizens exercising their legal right to move freely within the 28-nation bloc.
  • Love it or hate it, CAP is crucial to U.K. farmers. Forty percent of all U.K. farm income came from Brussels from 2010-13, the latest data available.
  • EU bureaucracy is relatively tiny, about 33,000 civil servants, compared to 410,000 U.K. civil servants, according the Wall Street Journal.
  • The Leaves’ claim that the U.K. sends the EU about $465 million a week is “a lie,” according The Guardian, a leading national newspaper in England. A more accurate figure is $180 million, less than 40 percent of the amount claimed by Leave proponents.

The vote is not legally binding to the British Parliament, whose members favoured staying in the EU by an almost four to one margin, but U.K. politicians are dancing carefully as they discuss what to do next.

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Prime Minister David Cameron, who advocated for a EU referendum during his 2015 reelection bid, was ambushed by its results. He’s out come September.

His opponent, the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbin, was soundly gobsmacked by colleagues in a “no confidence” vote June 28, and he looks to be history, too.

So far, the only possible winner, according to one leading Leave advocate, might be British farmers who, claimed the politician, ought to receive “the lion’s share” of any former EU duties left after the nation strengthens its national health care system.

Even if Parliament agrees — a very, very long shot at best — no one has any idea if the money will cover the farmers’ soon-to-go CAP payments or when it might flow. For two years at least, however, CAP will remain the key farm income scheme in the U.K.

Writing for the blog CAP Reform.eu, Irish ag economist Alan Matthews said any EU-U.K. farm program changeover (something, he says, he will “deeply regret”) will be a long time coming.

When it comes, however, the vote “means that trade costs will rise because U.K. exports … to the EU will no longer be considered ‘internal’ trade.”

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Even then, he suggests, U.K. farmers should strive to remain in EU programs such as the European Food Safety Authority, the European Chemicals Agency and the European Emissions Trading Schemes to maintain “as much mobility of goods, services, capital, and people as possible.”

Ultimately, however, it’s people — not markets, not politics, not regulations — who will be most affected by the dramatic Brexit choice.

Nationwide, it was a narrow victory for the Leaves; in the countryside, though, farmers voted “more than two to one” to go it alone.

“Possibly this was because U.K. farmers are in the older age group,” Matthews said.

Well, the oldsters won, and what they won was something they already had — yesterday — and what they lost could be something far more fleeting, tomorrow.

Alan Guebert is an Illinois-based agricultural commentator.

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  • jenny carson

    What a load of BS, if you
    can’t make it on your own, then
    move over and let someone
    with the stones have at it.

    • richard

      …..which is why the two “foghorns” for Brexit both resigned their positions within days of the vote…..Now thats “stones” for ya…….. Like Pete Townshend wrote…….”Welcome to the new boss……same as the old boss”…..(ouch)

      • Harold

        “fog horns” for Brexit? Are you sure you don’t mean against? Further, I don’t see how Pete Townsend apply’s unless your referring to our own government.

  • jenny carson

    Truth hurts, doesn’t it? Whole
    story is B.S. You can’t go it
    on your own, what good are you?

  • Harold

    I would rather read an opinion from an author who examines and has knowledge of facts, than a commenter who comments about another’s comments.
    In comparison, Iceland has already gone the way of Britain and Is proving to the world, what can be done when citizens take back their Governments, and then next their own Banks. Britain’s people are taking that same stance now. The author correctly identified that the politicians were not speaking the truth – but contrarily, it is the reason they voted to vacate and replace their political offices. Even President Obama was in Britain to convince voters to ignore themselves, and to stay connected to a government piece of paper. We don’t have to guess what voters told Obama. (“Leaves” – is that the new professional language now?) Vote’s to separate – were among the young and the old. The middle age – were among the vote’s to not separate. Iceland heard the same “road to hell theory” during their own separation, but proved otherwise.The details you will not find on the six-o-clock news.
    “The dark abyss” Britain was facing is the same “dark abyss” that we all face when looking at our own Government, agencies and corporate. Taking back your Government and its Agencies and gaining transparency, is hardly heading into a “dark abyss”. In the end, the majority did not choose to separate, they chose to be engaged in their country, it’s resources, and its peoples. The fear-brewing, is coming from the ones who will loose their influence and profits, and i’m sure that we have not yet seen all of their press-gang tactics, that Britain has yet to endure. The word separation assumes a loss, which is then a poor word for expressing freedom and gain.