Theresa Villiers promises support for farmers in event of 'no deal'

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has promised support for farmers in no deal scenario

FORMER Northern Ireland secretary of state Theresa Villiers has said the British government is prepared to support the agricultural sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The cabinet minister, who is in charge of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), met representatives of Northern Ireland's agri-food industry in Belfast yesterday.

Representatives of the farming, dairy and agri-food sector have repeatedly expressed concerns about the potential impact of a no-deal on the sector.

Ms Villiers said she had heard the "doomsday" prediction from the dairy sector adding that the government was prepared to support it and other sectors if it were needed.

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU), meat and dairy processors were all in attendance at the private two hour meeting.

Dr Mike Johnston, of Dairy Council NI, who issued this week's stark warning on the future of the industry in the event of no-deal, said Ms Villiers had been left in no doubt of the need for a Brexit deal.

Ulster Farmers Union deputy president Victor Chestnutt added that if a no-deal happened farming would need "life support".

Ms Villiers said the government was determined to "make Brexit work for farmers" and that said she believed a deal was still possible and the EU had engaged "positively" with the recent government proposals.

Asked if an extension was the most likely outcome by the end of October, Ms Villiers said the UK needed to "get on with" Brexit.

"The country voted to leave, we can't keep kicking the can down the road," she said.

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