Midlands Brexit Party MEP in call for farming subsidies - with pictures
Farmers should receive subsidies to offset any tariffs imposed in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a Midlands MEP has said.
Rupert Lowe, the newly elected Brexit Party MEP for the West Midlands, said the Government had a responsibility to ensure farmers would be no worse off in the event the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
He made the comments at an event for party supporters in Wolverhampton last night after Prime Minister Boris Johnson toured Wales promising a 'full package of protections' for farmers.
During the Conservative leadership election, defeated candidate Jeremy Hunt raised the case of a sheep farmer he had met in Shropshire who said his business would be destroyed by 40 per cent tariffs on meat exports to the EU.
But Mr Lowe, himself a farmer who keeps sheep, said the EU would be taking a big political risk if tried to punish Britain for leaving.
"The French buy a lot of Welsh lamb, they seem to like Welsh lamb, and I'm pretty sure a lot of them would be unhappy if the price went up by 40 per cent because the EU had put a tariff on it," he said.
"But if they did do that, I think our response would be that we would have to subsidise our farmers."
Mr Lowe said he was not in favour of imposing import tariffs, but he said the EU should be mindful of the fact that it exports more to the UK than the UK does to the EU.
"I'm not in favour of tariffs, but if they want to go down that route we would have to protect our industries," he said.
"We don't need to have a trade war, under Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, we can keep to existing trade arrangements as long as there is a genuine desire to come to a trade arrangement. "
Mr Lowe said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the amount of money saved by not contributing to the EU would free up funds for subsidies to support groups affected such as farmers.
Savings could also be made by scrapping the HS2 rail line and stopping overseas aid.
Mr Lowe, the former chairman of Southampton FC, said he had been asked to produce a paper on farming, which would be used to shape the party's agriculture policy.
He said he hoped to see an increase in British consumption of domestically produced food when the country left the EU.
"At the moment we produce just about 50 per cent of our required food, which I think is getting dangerously low," Mr Lowe said.
He said the Government needed to strike a balance between securing Britain's food supply and ensuring reasonable prices for consumers.
"I don't want to see this country producing less than 50 per cent of its food, and I certainly don't want to see us importing cheap hormone-laden beef or chlorinated chicken," he added.
Mr Lowe said he expected the party would suffer in the polls from the 'Boris bounce', but hoped support would not fall below 15 per cent.
Mr Lowe was joined by fellow MEPs for the West Midlands Martin Daubney and Andrew Kerr at the event at Wolverhampton Racecourse. About 60 Brexit Party supporters turned out for the meeting, which was chaired by former Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge.
Mr Daubney, the former editor of lad's magazine Loaded, said until recently he had been a lifelong member of the Labour Party. But he said that since Ed Miliband became leader, the party had abandoned its traditional working-class routes.
He said he would be making it his mission to win support from traditional Labour voters, saying the party could not rely on the support of disaffected Conservatives.
Mr Daubney called for HS2 to be dropped, branding it a 'white elephant'.
He said the Government would to better in investing in transport links from the east of the country to the west.
"It will destroy our countryside, just so a few people can wave as they pass through the Midlands at high speeds," he said.
"Ordinary working people won't be able to afford to use it. It's a wonderful system for the privileged."
Mr Daubney said he was shocked at the way votes were carried out in the European Parliament, with huge financial inducements being offered to member states in order to win votes.
He likened the process to elect Ursula Von De Leyen as president of the European Commission to that to elect Kim Jong Un as North Korean president.
When asked if the Brexit Party would refrain from standing in seats held by pro-Brexit Conservatives, Mr Daubney said much of the depended on the attitude of the Tories.
He said the Conservatives could hardly expect them to stand aside for Tory Brexiteers if the Tories did not give them a free-run in seats the Conservatives had no chance of winning.
Mr Lowe called for student debt to be written off, saying it was appalling young people were being asked to pay an interest rate of 6.3 per cent.
He also said business in the European Parliament was openly rigged against eurosceptics, with Brexit Party MEPs being subjected to a strict 90-second time limit when addressing the parliament, while other MEPs were aloud to carry on for four minutes or more.