Farming protest London: why are tractors blocking the roads around Westminster? Campaign and route explained

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Farmers are set to drive tractors around central London for hours to protest against Rishi Sunak and the government.

Farmers are set to bring central London to a standstill with a tractor protest.

Agriculture vehicles are to clog up the roads around Parliament to send a message to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Founder of campaign group Save British Farming, Liz Webster, said: "Farming is fraught with risks: risks that have intensified every year with the climate emergency, Ukraine war and Brexit reality which have only served to exacerbate problems. 

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“Rishi Sunak loves to use gimmicky campaign slogans about British farming when elections loom and he needs votes, but, in truth, his government has shown us they just don’t care about British farming or food. They want to leave us reliant on food imports which are bad for public health, the environment, animal welfare and exacerbate the climate crisis.”

Farmers have told NationalWorld that they feel undercut by post-Brexit trade deals, while supermarkets are still paying too little money for homegrown produce. They say that the government needs to pay far more attention to food security, which is under threat from the climate crisis and wars across the globe.

The last farmer protest in Westminster in 2020. Credit: GettyThe last farmer protest in Westminster in 2020. Credit: Getty
The last farmer protest in Westminster in 2020. Credit: Getty | AFP via Getty Images

What is the route for the London farming protest?

Farmers are congregating in London from across the country to take part in the tractor protest. They will meet at around 5pm by New Covent Garden Market, in Battersea, south-west London on 25 March, before driving towards Parliament.

The farm vehicles will then drive over Vauxhall Bridge and along Millbank, where they will hit Parliament Square. The tractors will drive around Parliament Square, down Westminster Bridge Road before turning left onto Embankment. They will then turn left onto Northumberland Avenue, before going down Whitehall which takes them back to Parliament Square.

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The farmers will repeat this loop until 7.30pm. Drivers are advised to avoid the area as there could be serious disruption.

Farmer protest route in London. Credit: Kim MoggFarmer protest route in London. Credit: Kim Mogg
Farmer protest route in London. Credit: Kim Mogg | Kim Mogg

Why are farmers protesting?

Farmers say that since the Brexit vote they have been undercut by poor quality food from abroad. They claim that trade deals with Australia and New Zealand have allowed the UK market to be hit with lower-welfare meat, which can be sold at cheaper prices.

On top of that, campaigners say that the government doesn’t care enough about maintaining food security. This is the proportion of home-grown food that Britons eat in the UK. It currently stands at between 55% and 60%. Farmers believe more needs to be done to support their businesses and ensure that the UK does not become too reliant on exports.

Webster explained: "In 2019, this government was elected with a mandate to uphold our standards and deliver a ready-made deal with the EU which would see British agriculture boom. It is now entirely obvious that they have totally betrayed us all. 

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Liz Webster on her farm in North Wiltshire.Liz Webster on her farm in North Wiltshire.
Liz Webster on her farm in North Wiltshire. | Supplied

“Polling shows that the public back British farming and food and want to maintain our high food standards and support local producers. We need a radical change of policy and an urgent exit from these appalling trade deals which will decimate British food.”

Geoffrey Philpott, a cauliflower farmer in east Kent, commented:  “My aim is to produce the highest quality, safest, healthiest food for the UK market. We should be banning substandard imports that aren’t held to the same high standards as UK production. In many cases they are produced using methods and chemicals that are banned in the UK. 

“I am proud to have a Union Jack on all my produce, but why is it foreign produce that is packed in the UK can have a Union Jack on it? The only reason is to deceive the public into believing it’s the healthiest and safest food you can buy!

“Food security is another top issue. I hope to be farming for many years to come, but if things don’t change, I won’t be and I won’t be employing the fourteen people who work for me. Then we will be reliant on foreign produce that will not have the high standard of UK production. Once that happens, we could be held to ransom over supply and pricing.”

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What has the government said?

At the National Farmers Union conference, Sunak said “we don’t celebrate” farmers enough. He continued: “And so, on behalf of the nation, I just wanted to say: thank you. Biggest change in a generation.

“Now while the importance of farmers will never change – farming is going through its biggest change in a generation. And as you do so, this government will be by your side.”

He added: “Thanks to you we enjoy good quality food all year round - global events – including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – have put food security back at the top of the agenda. We’ll never take our food security for granted.”

When asked about the protests by NationalWorld, Sunak’s official spokesman said that at the NFU conference the Prime Minister “reiterated the government’s support for farming and launched the largest ever package of grants”.

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He continued: “We’ve, more broadly, been clear that farming is at the forefront of any trade deals we negotiate. The PM announced last month, in response to representations from the NFU, an annual food security index.” 

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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