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Farron: Cumbria farming at risk if UK leaves single market

October 17, 2016 4:56 PM

Cumbrian farmers could face devastating tariffs if the UK leaves the single market, South Lakes MP Tim Farron has warned. A report released today shows that tariffs could be as high as 40% on lamb, 47% on milk and 59% on beef.

Tim's warning comes following the launch today of the latest report from the Lib Dems' EU Spokesman Nick Clegg at an event at the National Liberal Club. His report warns that a 'hard Brexit' involving leaving the single market could see significant tariffs slapped on British farm produce.

If the UK simply reverts to WTO trade terms following Brexit, UK farmers will face massive tariffs on their exports, including 47% on milk, 40% on lamb and 59% on beef. Arable producers face levies of 40% on unmilled wheat, and around 10% on fruit and vegetables.

Consumers are also likely to see prices increase, due to weighty tariffs on imports as well as a weak currency. WTO rules require that the minimum "Most Favoured Nation" tariff is applied to everyone unless there is a Free Trade Agreement in place, which will take time to negotiate. Trade tariffs and bureaucratic customs checks will also increase the price of international trade.

The Lib Dems are pushing for the UK either to remain in the Single Market on a permanent basis; or to seek a transitional deal based on the Norwegian model that would maintain membership of the Single Market until a new trade deal with the EU is negotiated.

Tim said: "Here in Cumbria, our farmers have to work incredibly hard to make a living from the land. The average income for a Cumbrian hill farm is £14,400. The prospect of massive export tariffs on Cumbrian lamb and other products would be devastating for our farmers. 40% of the lamb we produce goes to the EU, but this would face huge tariffs making it incredibly difficult for our farmers to compete.

"I am determined to fight for tariff-free access to the single market, so that Cumbrian farmers can trade freely with the world's largest single market. The government must secure a Brexit deal that does not drive under local farmers."