‘S*** quite frankly’ - Leave-voting farmer slams trade deals and says Brexit has gone ‘terribly’

Farmer Gavin Pearce said he voted for Brexit “because it’s about time we produce our own food for our country”, but that it's going “terribly in my mind".
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A Leave-voting farmer has slammed the government’s free-trade agreements as “s***” and said Brexit has gone “terribly”.

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One of the Leave campaign’s main arguments was that EU trade would be supplanted with deals around the world. However, farmers have said they’ve been undercut by free-trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, which have had minimal impact on the UK economy. 

Gavin had a more succinct way of describing the trade deals: “S*** quite frankly.” He explained: “I think they could be structured better - they’re still not looking after their own industry and country. If our industry is doing good, our economy is doing better - there’s a knock on effect for everyone.”

The farmer, from Appledore, in Kent, said he voted for Brexit “because it’s about time we produce our own food for our country”. When asked how it was going, he replied: “Terribly in my mind.” He added that there’s too many “rules and red tape” for farmers, something Brexit was supposed to reduce.

British farmers protest in Westminster. Credit: GettyBritish farmers protest in Westminster. Credit: Getty
British farmers protest in Westminster. Credit: Getty

Surveys have shown that more than half of Leave voters believe Brexit has gone badly or very badly, however only 16% would vote to rejoin. Earlier in the month, NationalWorld revealed that no British beef has been exported to Australia under the first post-Brexit free-trade agreement as there is too much red tape. 

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At the start of March, an exporter of beef jerky had its shipment blocked by Australian border controls as the UK government had not requested access. While 1,700 tonnes of Aussie beef has been exported to Britain.

When asked about farmers’ dissatisfaction, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman told NationalWorld: “We’ve … been clear that farming is at the forefront of any trade deals we negotiate.”

North Wiltshire farmer Liz Webster, who is the founder of the Save British Farming campaign group, described this as “a lie”. She said: “They [the government] know it’s a lie because they didn’t even negotiate reciprocal access for our British beef to Australia. George Eustice is on record for saying we gave too much away. So they did not - it’s just a lie.”

Eustice, who was the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs Secretary when the Australia deal was signed, has since criticised the FTA, blaming it on Liz Truss’ International Trade Department.

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He said in 2022: “I no longer have to put such a positive gloss on what was agreed … the truth of the matter is that the UK gave away far too much for far too little in return.”

Leave campaigners claimed that EU trade would be supplanted with deals around the world, although recent figures have shown that hasn’t happened. Instead goods trade has dropped well below all other G7 countries and the UK still relies on working with Europe, just with far more red tape.

While numerous farmers have told NationalWorld about the detrimental impact Brexit has had on their livelihoods. This is partly what drove so many to take part in the huge protest on Monday. Webster says the only way to resurrect British agriculture is to rejoin the single market.

Ralph Blackburn is NationalWorld’s politics editor based in Westminster, where he gets special access to Parliament, MPs and government briefings. If you liked this article you can follow Ralph on X (Twitter) here and sign up to his free weekly newsletter Politics Uncovered, which brings you the latest analysis and gossip from Westminster every Sunday morning.

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