Jonathan Roberts: 'I'm utterly bored of the miserablism about countryside futures'

JonathanRoberts, director of external affairs at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
JonathanRoberts, director of external affairs at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

Jonathan Roberts, director of external affairs at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), answers The Yorkshire Post's questions for our weekly Q&A feature.

Mr Roberts is from Thirsk and is based in Berkshire. He is a former communications director at the UK Chamber of Shipping.

Picture by James Hardisty.

Picture by James Hardisty.

What does your job entail? The basis of the job is to champion and defend the interests of rural businesses to government, Parliament and anyone else who will listen.

We want to see the rural economy achieve its vast potential.

Where does your affinity with the countryside stem from? I’m a Thirsk lad. Walk up Sutton Bank at sunset, that’s all the answer you need!

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Are you concerned about a potential no-deal Brexit? In the long term I think the UK will succeed outside of the EU but as with every major change there will be winners and losers along the way.

Yes, I’m concerned for the sectors with high exposure to the EU who have limited ability to diversify or pivot to different markets.

My job is to hammer the issues home with our politicians.

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Can we feel positive about the countryside’s future? Yes! I’m utterly bored of the miserabilism that dominates national debate at the moment.

The innovation that is going on, not just in agriculture but broader rural entrepreneurship is so exciting – it’s an economic powerhouse just waiting to be unleashed.

But we need a strong package of policies from government to fulfil that potential, not least ensuring fibre broadband and 4G for all of Yorkshire and beyond.