Wednesday, 12 September 2018 17:28


A damning new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has determined that Michael Gove’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is “unable to deliver” on its preparations for exiting the EU by March 2019.

In a scathing review, the NAO notes that Defra has “no clear vision” of their role in negotiations, with many of the plans put forward by the department “of poor quality and lack maturity”. It also points out that while Defra will have to reach agreements with 154 countries, it has so far only managed to negotiate deals with 15 of these countries.
The devastating report is an embarrassment for Michael Gove, a prominent Brexiteer, who recently promised that his department would be ready to leave the EU.
The timing of the report could not come at a worse time for the Secretary of State as he publishes his Brexit Agriculture bill today, amid huge uncertainty for the farming sector – which faces chronic problems in terms of trade and sourcing seasonal labour due to the Tories’ decision to drag the UK out of Europe.  
The report also coincides with the celebration of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, which champions the importance of this sector to the Scottish economy and the people of Scotland. In 2017, food and drink exports to the EU were worth £2.5 billion and the prospect of a no-deal Brexit will seriously harm the success of Scottish produce.
Gail Ross, Deputy Convener of Holyrood’s Rural Committee, said:
“The future of our economy is on the line, and the Tories seem prepared to betray the people of Scotland at every turn. The UK government must wake up to the dangers of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, and not before time. 
“Brexit is going to be the biggest challenge that Scotland’s industry has faced for generations – and this new report underlines the scale of the challenge and the unpreparedness of the UK government.
“This report is highly embarrassing for Michael Gove and other Brexiters. His failure to prepare for a no-deal Brexit seriously risks damaging Scotland’s food and drink exports, which are worth £6 billion to the Scottish economy, and support thousands of jobs.
“While the SNP continues to stand up for Scotland, this stark warning proves that Theresa May must heed the warnings on what a ‘no-deal’ scenario will mean for Scottish industry, job and livelihoods.”

You can access the report here:

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