Tory leadership: Jeremy Hunt pledges £6bn for farmers in no-deal Brexit


Jeremy Hunt, a leadership candidate for Britain"s Conservative Party arrives at BBC studios in LondonImage copyright
Reuters

Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt is to outline his plans for a no-deal Brexit, including a £6bn pledge to the fishing and farming industries.

Setting out what he would do as PM, Mr Hunt will say farmers and fishermen “face uncertainty” if there is no deal, but that he will “help smooth it over”.

Some farming leaders have warned against leaving the EU without a deal.

Mr Johnson also promised to support the rural community after Brexit during a meeting with farmers last week.

Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt are competing against each other to become the next Conservative leader.

The Conservative Party’s 160,000 members will begin voting next week and Theresa May’s successor is expected to be announced on 23 July.

In a speech in London on Monday, Mr Hunt will say the food and agriculture industry deserves to be treated in a similar way to the financial services industry in 2008, when banks received a multi-billion pound bailout by the government.

He will promise to create a temporary “no deal relief programme” for the fishing and farming industry who export to Europe – aimed to be similar to US President Donald Trump’s promise of £16bn for farmers affected by Chinese tariffs.

He will also promise to set up a no-deal committee, with similar powers to Cobra, to make sure the government is ready to leave by 31 October, as well as a transport committee to keep goods moving through ports and airports.

“If you’re a sheep farmer in Shropshire or a fishermen in Peterhead I have a simple message for you,” Mr Hunt is expected to say, “I know you face uncertainty if we have to leave the EU without a deal.

“I will mitigate the impact of a no-deal Brexit on you and step in to help smooth those short term difficulties.

“If we could do it for the bankers in the financial crisis, we can do it for our fisherman, farmers and small businesses now.”

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If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it will automatically trade under the basic World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Under these rules, the tariffs – the taxes on imported and exported goods – will be different to what the UK currently trades under, which means the cost to farmers to export products could change or they could be affected by competition from abroad.

The government has already announced its plans for tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A temporary scheme will see some tariffs protect farmers producing meat, while other sectors of farming will have low or no tariffs.

Farming unions have previously warned against a no-deal Brexit, citing the impact of tariffs on agri-exports as a threat, and the National Farmers Union has said British farming will be “damaged” if it happens.

When challenged last week about the potential impact leaving the EU without a deal would have on exports, Mr Johnson told farmers in Cumbria he did not want such an outcome and intended to negotiate a tariff free area with Europe.

He added that farmers “should be assured that we will support the rural community, with price support, efficiency payments, whatever”.

Compare the candidates’ policies

Select a topic and a candidate to find out more






BREXIT


– Would leave the EU with no deal, but it’s not his preferred option.
– Wants changes to the Irish backstop and proposes sending a new negotiating team to Brussels.
– Wants to make changes to the withdrawal agreement and thinks it’s possible to get them done by 31 October, but has not ruled out an extension.


– Has pledged to get the UK out of the EU on 31 October, the deadline for Brexit set by the EU, but thinks the chances of a no-deal Brexit happening are a “million to one”.
– Would like to leave on the basis of a new withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU, with the backstop removed and replaced with “alternative arrangements”.
– If this is not possible, he would ask the EU to agree to a “standstill period” during which the UK could negotiate a free trade deal with the bloc.
– Failing this, the UK must be prepared to leave on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms if required, and the country would “get ready for that outcome”.
– Says he would demonstrate “creative ambiguity” over when the UK will pay the £39bn “divorce” payment it is due to give the EU as part of the negotiated deal. He has also said the money should be retained until there is “greater clarity about the way forward”.

IMMIGRATION


– Calls for flexibility on immigration, saying skilled workers should be prioritised.
– Wants to review policies of stopping migrants with less than £30,000 coming to the UK to work.
– Would scrap the Conservative target of reducing net annual immigration to below 100,000 a year, he told the Daily Mail.


– Promises to deliver an Australian-style points-based immigration system, considering factors including whether an immigrant has a firm job offer before arrival and their ability to speak English.
– Opposes the net migration target of under 100,000 per year.
– Says he is “open to talent, open to immigration” but it “should be controlled”.
– Would block the ability to claim benefits immediately when someone arrives in the UK.

TAX


– As an entrepreneur, he wants to turn Britain into “the next Silicon Valley… a hub of innovation”.
– Pledges to slash business taxes to the lowest in Europe to attract firms to Britain after Brexit and reduce corporation tax to 12.5%.
– Wants to increase the threshold at which workers pay National Insurance to at least £12,000 a year.


– Pledges to cut income tax for people earning more than £50,000 by raising the 40% tax threshold to £80,000.
– Plans to pay for the reported £9.6bn annual cost of the cut in part from a pot set aside by the Treasury for a possible no-deal Brexit, and in part by increasing employee National Insurance payments.
– However he says his tax proposals will begin by “lifting thresholds for those on lowest pay”.

SPENDING


– Wants to boost defence spending by £15bn over the next five years.
– Promises to build 1.5m new homes for young people over the next 10 years.


– Pledges to “find the money” to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers over an as-yet unspecified period.
– Promises to speed up the delivery of “full fibre” internet connection, with the super-fast service available to all by 2025, eight years earlier than currently planned.
– Focus on Northern Powerhouse.
– Wants to review the HS2 train project.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE


– Says there should be an automatic system for people to save for their social care costs in old age “in the same way they save for their pension”.
– Says people should be able to opt out of the scheme, and the government would cap costs for those who “save responsibly” during their lives.
– Mental health support to be offered in every school and a crackdown on social media companies that fail to regulate their content.


– Has previously said money spent on the EU could be put into the NHS.
– Says more should be spent on social care, according to a cross-party “national consensus”.
– Says the NHS would be “free to everybody at the point of use” under his premiership and has ruled out a pay-for-access NHS, even as a result of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

EDUCATION


– Says anyone who creates a new business which employs more than 10 people for five years would have their university tuition fee debts written off.
– He also plans a cut in interest rate paid on student loans.
– Long-term plan to provide more funding for the teaching profession in return for a guarantee that no one leaves the education system without a “rigorous qualification” sufficient to work up to at least the average salary.
– Wants to transform the education system to abolish illiteracy.


– Promises to raise spending on secondary school pupils to £5,000 each.
– Called the funding gap between some schools in cities compared with those in rural areas a “disturbing reality”.

On Sunday, Mr Hunt said he would be prepared to pursue a no-deal Brexit “with a heavy heart”.

Mr Johnson has previously said the UK must leave on 31 October “deal or no deal” and that he would take the UK out of the EU by Halloween “come what may, do or die”.

He challenged Mr Hunt to make the same commitment.

In an interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Johnson reiterated the commitment, saying he would take “personal responsibility” for ensuring the UK leaves by 31 October, with or without a deal, as the current “drift and dither” could not continue.

Asked whether he was willing to suspend Parliament to force through a no-deal exit, he said he did not “like the idea” but MPs must accept “responsibility” given the grave situation.

Mr Johnson also said he was still committed, whatever the Brexit outcome, to cutting corporation tax from its current rate of 19% to 12.5%.

Meanwhile, he has continued to refuse to face Mr Hunt in a head-to-head debate before ballot papers are sent out to the Tory membership.

A Sky News debate was planned for Monday but will now see Mr Hunt interviewed by Kay Burley.

Mr Johnson has previously said he believes he is doing enough head-to-head debates with Mr Hunt.



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