Diane Dodds: BBC Brexit dairy cull story was project fear

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor
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The BBC’s Newsnight story about a mass cull of dairy cattle in Northern Ireland if the UK was to exit the EU on WTO terms was the latest phase of project fear.

The story was based on a faceless ‘industry source’.

The remarks will generate fear among local farmers and were intended to increase pressure on the government into accepting any old deal at a critical time in the Brexit process.

This is both cynical and counterproductive.

The DUP will continue to work closely with our government and industry representatives to ensure that the needs of these vital sectors, including dairy, are understood and met under any Brexit scenario, including a no-deal.

It is vital that ministers recognise our unique circumstances as part of accelerated readiness preparations and future trade policies. A cull of cattle is not envisaged and would not be acceptable.

The greatest obstacle to a sensible deal is the intransigence of Brussels and Dublin in insisting on the divisive and undemocratic backstop which has been rejected on three occasions by the UK Parliament.

The Brady amendment, which secured majority support for alternative arrangements, provided a route to unlock further progress but this too was rejected by the EU.

The EU’s current position is not sustainable if it is genuine about putting the interests of ordinary citizens above those of the federalist project.

We have been clear that no deal is not our preferred outcome. We want to see agreement which delivers the referendum result but also ensure close ties with our closest neighbours in areas like trade and security.

However this can only be reached in a spirit of co-operation, not coercion. Northern Ireland’s economic and constitutional security within the UK will never be a price we are willing to pay.

As the deadline of October 31 approaches it is likely that a re-run of project fear will come to dominate newspapers and our airwaves.

This will require strong and steely leadership to ensure the will of the 2016 referendum is implemented.

We would urge the prime minister to reject the tactics of scare-mongering and instead continue the pursuit of a withdrawal agreement with the EU that is fair, sensible and respectful of the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

Diane Dodds, Democratic Unionist, MEP for Northern Ireland