Fears for farmers and fishermen as Cummings ally says ‘no need’ for agriculture

PUBLISHED: 14:36 01 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:41 01 March 2020

Minette Batters, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president. Photograph: Sky News.

Minette Batters, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president. Photograph: Sky News.

Archant

A senior government adviser has come under fire after having said that the UK can follow Singapore’s model, a country he regards as ‘rich, without having its own agricultural sector’.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only continue to grow with your support.

Dr Tim Leunigh's comments regarding the food sector not being "critically important" to the UK's economy, and agriculture and fisheries "certainly" not important, were slammed by the National Farmers' Union (NFU), after being leaked to the Mail on Sunday.

Leunig, a Treasury adviser and academic, is said to be close to Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson's chief adviser in Downing Street.

The adviser's comments are likely to spark fears that ministers will get rid of safeguards for farmers and fishermen following Brexit trade talks.

Minette Batters, National Farmers' Union (NFU) president, told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday that the comparison between the UK and Singapore is "completely out of touch".

"Singapore has five million people, and doesn't have any farmed landscape, so it actually has to import all its food.

"Here, 75% of Britain is a farmed landscape, we have a fantastic maritime climate in which to produce our food, and we have more than 60 million people here to feed, so there's a sort of moral imperative, if you like, for us to be able to produce food in this country.

"So absolutely we need our farmers, and we're the bedrock of the largest manufacturing sector, providing all those raw ingredients and currently at 60% self-sufficiency."

Batters highlighted Britain's potential to become a world leader in climate-friendly farming, provided the government operated "based on standards, integrity, and actually putting farmers at the forefront of delivering on climate change."

Sources told the PA news agency that the remarks were made in personal emails and that Dr Leunig was not speaking in his Treasury role.

Farmers and fishermen voted to leave the European Union in large numbers in the 2016 referendum, after the Leave campaign said they will be better off without EU legislation.

Food standards are an important topic in the forthcoming trade talks and brought criticism for environment secretary George Eustice after he refused to rule out chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef from the United States.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Become a supporter

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £20

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Find your nearest pro-European campaigning activities, talks, protests and events nationwide.