Brexit: ‘You make your bed and you lie in it’

Voting in the Brexit referendum was a personal choice – you make your bed and lie in it, Jim Nicholson MEP has said.

Speaking on RTE’s Countrywide, he said that on the issue of direct payments from the EU, this year and next year farmers can be sure of receiving payments from the EU.

“After the two year period we’re in uncharted waters, nobody has a clue. Nothing can move until the UK triggers Article 50 and I’d be very surprised if that’s triggered before January next year.

“I’m old enough to remember life before the EU. You [farmers] were quite frankly at the bottom of the heap and very pessimistic about the future of agriculture.”

Also speaking on the show was Brid Rodgers, former Minister for Agriculture in the North, who said Brexit reminds her of turkeys voting for Christmas and that the chances of a second referendum on Brexit were gone.

“I can’t see a Tory government going for that. Agriculture is a very important industry in Northern Ireland – it’s more than twice as important in the North as it is in Britain.”

On the UK making up direct payments once it exits the EU, she said that the “British Treasury making that up is pie in the sky“.

Farmers will be in competition with the health and educational sectors for this money, she said and that farmers were sold a pup on the issue.

On the issue of the border with the Republic of Ireland, she said that it’s all up in the air and that the uncertainty is “dreadful”.

“Some 75% of milk produced in Northern Ireland is processed in the south – the processors can move to the North, but the farmers can’t move to the south.”

Earlier this year, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, said that direct payments to farmers in Northern Ireland are worth £2.3 billion between 2014 and 2020. He also said that the payments make up 87% of annual farm income to farmers in the North.

The Commissioner said that for every £10 a farmer makes, the CAP payments make up £8.70 of this – and that they will struggle to survive outside of the EU.