Gove talks Brexit at Royal Welsh Show

Reporter:

Owain Farrington

A MEETING between Welsh and UK Governments was held at the Royal Welsh Show 2017, attended by Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove MP.

Mr Gove met with Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths and First Minister Carwyn Jones to discuss what Wales wants from the Brexit negotiations.

He said: “I said to Lesley that what I wanted to do was to make sure that we had an approach going forward where Wales was happy through the Welsh Government with what we wanted to do and we’re going to have meetings in September.”

Despite the meetings, Mr Gove noted that Welsh Government could be cut out of the process.

“It would be perfectly possible for the UK Government to say unilaterally this is what we want and the Welsh, the Scottish and the Northern Irish government are going to have to fall in behind, “ he added.

“The reason why there is a question about exactly where powers would lie is because we want to hear from Wales.

“I know that some people like having their cake and eating it. The Welsh Government either wants certainty now or it wants dialogue.”

Many farms receive funding from the European Union through the Basic Payment Scheme, yet the process was seen to be over complicated and many want to see a similar yet easier process.

When asked if negotiations with Welsh Government might undermine the streamlining of the process, Mr Gove said: “Not at all. All the negotiations with the Welsh Government are designed to ensure that we can have a simple and coherent frame work with powers exercised at the right level in the right way and to strip away unnecessary bureaucracy which duplicates the efforts of farmers when they should be concentrating, as they all want to do, on increasing production, enhancing the environment and strengthening the rural economy.”

Mr Gove remained adamant that a strong Brexit deal can be found for farmers.

He said: “We can offer them the fact that there’s going to be a comprehensive trade deal between Britain and Europe at the end of this process.

“Because it is in the interests of everybody.

“It’s up to not just Lesley but also the representatives of the other devolved administrations.

“The more I can talk, for the reasons we have just discussed, to get to an agreed position as quickly as possible the better.”

As Britain looks to cut ties with the European Union, there are also concerns that farmers will lose access to crucial funding currently provided by the EU.

Mr Gove promised to continue the funding level to 2022, but anything past that is still an unknown.

He said: “It is the case that we were planning to ensure that funding would be guaranteed until 2020, we’re now making the promise that it will be guaranteed until 2022 which no other Government and no other party has pledged to do and I want to ensure as I said last week that we have the most generous possible support for agriculture in the future.”

Along with access to funding, being a member of the European Union opens up access to the Open Market.

Speaking about market access, Mr Gove said: “I will ensure that we have a system of agricultural support and also access to markets which ensures that Welsh hill farmers continue to be supported.”

He also expressed an interest in Welsh branding.

“I’d be delighted to see products marketed as part of the Britain is Great campaign but also to see products marketed as unambiguously Welsh and one of the things that everything from Anglesey Sea Salt to Pembrokeshire Potatoes to Welsh Lamb has is an appeal to the consumer on the basis of providence,” he said.

Email:

owain.farrington@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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