Farmer who appeared in DUP's party political broadcast now 'regrets' backing Brexit

PUBLISHED: 09:54 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:00 23 September 2019

County Down dairy farmer Charlie Weir appeared in the DUP’s general election video in 2017. Photograph: DUP.

County Down dairy farmer Charlie Weir appeared in the DUP's general election video in 2017. Photograph: DUP.

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A Northern Irish farmer who appeared in the DUP's party political broadcast highlighting the benefits of Brexit now regrets supporting it.

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County Down dairy farmer Charlie Weir appeared in the DUP's general election video in 2017, explaining that the pro-Brexit party "cared about agriculture and wanted to make agriculture more sustainable".

It is followed up by leader Arlene Foster explaining: "Farmers like Charlie know the opportunities that leaving the European Union will present, as well as acknowledging the challenges."

But now two years later the Waringstown man says he thinks the Brexit vote was a mistake and that a no-deal Brexit would "decimate" farming in Northern Ireland.

He told the Financial Times: "I should never have voted to go.

"It was the wrong thing to do. We were trying to reinvent the wheel here and the wheel was working all right."
He later told the BBC: "I voted to Leave but not knowing the whole story. 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 funding from Europe and if farmers weren't getting that money they couldn't survive."

He added farmers "would be at a loss" without the funding.

He said a no-deal Brexixt would lead to a fall in milk prices which would "finish the dairy industry in Northern Ireland".

"We would be going onto World Trade tariffs and that would reduce our milk price by 30%," he said.

While the unionist still backs the DUP he said he also backs the backstop because it would be the "best of both worlds".

"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 be an change to the union there has to be a vote."

A spokesperson for the DUP said they did want to see a no-deal Brexit and "continues to work towards an agreement allowing a sensible and managed exit."

They added: "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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