Irish agri leaders deliver sharp riposte to English MP calling for beef tariffs

Irish leaders in the agricultural sector have reacted to a UK MP who last week urged the UK Government to “call the EU’s bluff” and introduce tariffs on Irish beef to cripple the Irish economy.

Conservative MEP and hard-line Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg made the calls that World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs – reportedly of up to 70% – should be placed on Irish beef exports that would place the Irish agricultural industry in “serious trouble”.

Last week in his address to the Seanad, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: “The recent statement by Jacob Rees-Mogg in relation to Irish beef is a good example of a comment that is both unhelpful and irresponsible. But of course this is his stock in trade.

His comments highlight that the rift between the Brexiteers and the Remainers risks going on and on.

Meanwhile, speaking from the All-Island Dialogue on Brexit conference in Dundalk yesterday, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack also responded to “the very specific threat” made to Irish farming and the agri-food sector.

The president said that it was difficult not to conclude that the thrust of the MP’s remarks was that the long-standing food trade between Ireland and Britain “should now be seen as a hostage to be held against the kind of extreme Brexit favoured by Rees-Mogg and his faction”.

McCormack also called for more clarity to be made on Brexit, as “the clock is ticking”.

He concluded by saying that the European Council, to be held next month, must now concentrate on setting forth the kind of hard details that would permit some degree of the planning necessary.