Britain set for snap election to firm up Brexit support

British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced she will be calling an election on June 8, seeking to translate strong polling for the Conservative Party to parliamentary support for Brexit.

Rounding on political opponents of Brexit, Mrs May said: “Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country. So we need a general election and we need one now.

Our opponents believe that because the government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.

“Because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the government’s negotiating position in Europe.”

Having delivered formal notice of Britain’s intention to begin the Article 50 exit process at the end of March, Mrs May has a tight window to form a new government before the negotiations begin.

Although Mrs May said her decision to call an election was a “recent and reluctant” one, the Tories will be armed with a strong showing in opinion polls. A YouGov poll published in yesterday’s Sunday Times saw their support reach 44%, giving them a 21-point lead over Labour’s 23%.

Mrs May needs the support of two-thirds of MPs in order to call an early election. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would vote for an early election if the proposal was brought forward.

Impact of Brexit on agriculture

The IFA recently said that the Irish agricultural sector is vulnerable beyond all other Member States and sectors in upcoming Brexit negotiations.

The association’s Livestock Chairman, Angus Woods, said that there has to be a comprehensive free-trade agreement between the UK and the EU, should the UK actually exit the single market.

“Such an agreement must include particular elements such as tariff-free trade for food and agricultural products; the application of the common external tariff to imports into the EU and the UK; and the maintenance of equivalent standards for food safety, the environment, and animal health and welfare.”

Woods underlined the need for this, highlighting the fact that 50% of Irish beef exports go to the UK market.

It’s a high-value market and consistently pays above the EU average. Any reduction in access to, or the value of, the UK market would have a very negative impact on the Irish beef sector, and potentially the overall European beef market.