The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has said that Parliament should be given the chance of properly scrutinising the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, rather than being dissolved for a General Election.
TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said “With the EU having granted us a 13-week extension to the period for finalising our exit from the European Union, it is bizarre that we will be spending just short of half that time planning for and conducting a General Election. With the Christmas and New Year holidays intervening, it will be well into January before the new Parliament properly gets into swing. Whilst the Government might think that an election will put it in a stronger position to push its business through Parliament, it should learn the lesson of the failure of Theresa May’s snap election which caused the current Parliamentary paralysis. The outcome of the General Election is at best, uncertain and at worst could create an even more divided House of Commons.”
“The Prime Minister may not have appreciated the refusal of MPs to agree to his programme motion for the Bill, but that is no reason to abandon the Bill in favour of a General Election. Having given agreement to its Second Reading, there was at least the opportunity for Parliament to scrutinise what will be a piece of legislation of major constitutional importance. It would make more sense to use the additional time provided by the EU for this purpose rather than spending weeks conducting a divisive election campaign that is likely to produce more heat than light,” said Mr Dunn.
A further justification for allowing the Bill to continue its progress through Parliament is the length of the transition period between leaving and finalising our future trading status with the EU. This is due to terminate at the end of next year. Further delay will simply shorten the period for negotiating the terms of our future relationship with the EU beyond the end of 2020.
“We are unable to start negotiations for our future relationship with the European Union until we have agreed terms for our exit. Had we left with the previous deal in March we would have had just short of two years to negotiate a new free trade agreement with the EU. The period has now been shortened to 11 months. The UK agricultural industry needs the UK to secure a good trade deal for the long-term, which continues to allow us to have access to European markets for our sheep meat, beef and arable crops. We cannot risk the spectre of a no deal to appear again at the end of next year,” said Mr Dunn.