European vote changes political landscape

The vote for the UK to leave the EU, and the subsequent announcement that the Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down in October marks a hugely significant time in the political and social landscape of the country, says NFU Scotland.

Recognising that the events of the past 24 hours have significant ramifications and implications for Scottish food and farming, NFU Scotland is committed to putting the interests of farmers, crofters and the wider rural economy at the heart of forthcoming debates and negotiations.

Speaking from The Highland Show, Scotland’s biggest agricultural and food event, NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie said: “The dramatic events of the past few hours will mark a period of great uncertainty for Scotland’s farmers and crofters. What is also clear is that the role of the Union in representing our members’ views and protecting their interests will rarely have been more important in our 103-year history.

“Farming and crofting are at the core of rural Scotland and the rural economy and our focus will very firmly be on ensuring that the negotiated exit from Europe and the Common Agricultural Policy and the domestic arrangements that are to replace them will see a profitable and competitive industry in Scotland.

“The vote for the UK to leave the European Union brings few certainties as to what will happen in the weeks and months ahead but an intense period of negotiation will begin and a negotiated exit from the EU is expected to take a minimum of two years.

“NFU Scotland will be at the centre of any discussions on new arrangements for our food and farming sector. There is a need for these discussions to commence quickly so that the many businesses who benefit from support from the CAP and value the markets we have established for our produce in Europe and further afield can plan for the future. Significant sectors of our industry are also very reliant on a workforce sourced from other parts of the EU and we need to establish any implications for their businesses.

“What will be key for Scottish agriculture will be delivery on the commitments made in the campaign about support levels for agriculture in the event of a Brexit vote and to seek reassurances on terms of trade with rest of Europe and worldwide in the future.

“With the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron announced this morning, the political implications of the vote are huge. The political landscape across the UK is now in a period of flux and speculation is likely to be unhelpful.

“What is clear, is that there was strong support to remain in the EU across every part of Scotland and that was in stark contrast to the majority of the UK.

“There is considerable debate already as to what the EU referendum means with regards to any potential future vote on Scottish independence. It is also apparent that the UK vote to leave has wider ramifications for the future structure of the EU.

“We need to avoid knee-jerk reactions at this time. There has been a seismic shift in our political landscape in the last 24hrs and we need a period of stability – not least to allow our financial markets and economy to stabilise – before further major decisions should be made.”

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