Michael Gove has offered qualified assurances to farmers that the government won’t implement zero rate tariffs on imported foods in the case of a no deal Brexit, which the NFU has warned would decimate certain agricultural sectors.
Fears have been raised about the prospect of the UK opening the country to cheap imports by unilaterally waiving import tariffs in order to keep food coming into the country and prevent price inflation rocketing.
But speaking at the NFU conference in Birmingham, during a question and answer session after the secretary of state’s speech, NFU member Gary Yeomans, from Monmouthshire, asked Gove for reassurances that zero rate tariffs would not be applied to food imports post-Brexit.
Gove confirmed the cabinet had been discussing what the tariff regime might be in the event of a no deal and said an announcement should be made later this week. He added: “One thing I can reassure you is that it will not be the case that we will have zero rate tariffs on food products. There will be protections for sensitive sections of agriculture and food production.”
He added: “I won’t be able to say any more at this stage. You make a powerful argument and I hope that when we make the announcement we can pick up the threads of the conversation then and you can understand why it is that Government has made its decision in the way that it has.”