‘Slaughtered’: UK farmers protest post-Brexit rules and trade deals

'Slaughtered': UK farmers protest post-Brexit rules and trade deals

Farmers in the UK protested against pro-Brexit rules and trade deals on Monday, claiming they are hitting livelihoods and food security hard. 

To the sound of car horns, Save British Farming and Fairness for Farmers drove tractors slow-motion through south London towards Parliament Square, where supporters awaited.

Трубочисты Петербурга

Displaying signs that read «no farmers, no food, no future», the protesters called on the government to end trade deals they say allow imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal in the UK and undercut local farmers. 

Asked by a BBC News reporter: «The government says we firmly back our farmers, what do you say to that?» Liz Webster, founder of Save British Farming, said: «They’re not telling the truth. They negotiated trade deals which literally see us slaughtered. They’re the worst trade deals in the world. 

A convoy of farmers in tractors gather on the A20, near Wrotham, in Kent, England, Monday March 25, 2024.Gareth Fuller/PA

«We have been totally and utterly let down by this government, she added. «We are demanding change.» 

The UK’s exit from the EU has significantly affected its agriculture. Taking the country outside the bloc’s free trade zone and web of rules has left farmers grappling with bureaucratic headaches, exporting difficulties and labour shortages. 

A Euronews report in 2021 found that sparkling wine producers in the UK had resorted to using voluntary labour to pick grapes, owing to a sizeable reduction in migrant labourers coming to England due to Brexit. The COVID pandemic also played a role. 

Many British farmers supported Brexit, opposing the EU’s much-criticised Common Agricultural Policy. 

Many now say post-Brexit trade deals between the UK and countries like Australia and New Zealand have opened the door to cheap imports they cannot compete with. 

Organisers of the protest have also slammed labelling that allows products to bear a Union flag when they have not been grown or reared in the country.  

Mass farmer’s protests have gripped countries across the EU. Farmers in Poland, France and Germany have demonstrated against what claim are cumbersome bureaucracy, environmental policies and unfair foreign competition. 

Like the British, they claim they are being driven to bankruptcy. 

Public opinion in the UK on Brexit has soured, according to several polls. 

A poll by Opinium found a clear majority of the British public now believes withdrawing from the European Union was bad for the country’s economy. 

The survey of more than 2,000 UK voters also revealed that strikingly low numbers of people who believe Brexit has benefited them or the country.


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