EU referendum: Why Yorkshire's farmers should vote to leave

MP for North Antrim, Ian Paisley junior, of the Democratic Unionist Party
MP for North Antrim, Ian Paisley junior, of the Democratic Unionist Party
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MILLIONS of pounds would flow back to the UK farming and fishing economy if Britain left the EU, a campaigner has claimed at a London conference on Brexit.

The country would save £10m in payments if it left the union and receive £2.4bn worth of trade opportunities while abandoning the EU fishing quotas could bring as much as £5bn back to the UK, Northern Irish politician Ian Paisley junior has said.

Championing the case for farmers across the country at the Good Life After Brexit event near Westminster, the Democratic Unionist Politician said those campaigning to leave must 'bust the notion' to UK farmers that the agricultural economy is only a success because of the EU subsidy system.

He believes a 'single farm payment plus' scheme is far better than any financial deal that can be offered through the Common Agricultural Policy.

He said the best approach to the EU is to think 'let's milk the cow then cut it's throat', essentially urging farmers to use the union for its advantages and then cast it adrift.

"[Farming is] an industry that is all too often taken for granted and all too often treated as second class when it shouldn't be treated as any such thing.

"This industry should be our key priority for us as a nation, and for the United Kingdom Government and for anyone involved in governance as it embarks on any change that affects our trading position in the world," he said.

He claimed that in the UK, agriculture employs one out of eight people, contributes £85bn to the UK economy and is larger than the car manufacturing and aerospace industries combined.

"We are fed a diet of grasping farmers living off an EU subsidy trough. Too often farmers are kept in line with a false claim that without the EU they would not even exist. We must bust that notion, and bust it forever," said Mr Paisley, the son of the infamous politician the Rev Ian Paisley who died in 2014.

"For an exit of the European Union to be successful however we must present an argument and drives a debate that dispels that nonsense, that only the Common Agricultural Policy can save our farming industry.

"We produce 62% of what we eat. Our export market is way beyond the EU and is growing year on year in China and the Middle East and if we resolve our difficulties with Russia we could have a thriving export market there.

"We need an exit strategy that spells out the 'post-membership' position to farmers that the EU farm policy will become a single farm payment plus system. In other words, you'll get more if you're a farmer if you're out of the EU than you're currently in the EU."

"The UK will save £10m if it exits. That would be plenty of money around to replace any EU structural funds or Common Agricultural Policy.

"Outside the EU...Switzerland, Norway, Iceland each has a farm subsidy package that is far more generous to its primary producers, to real farmers."

EU fishing quotas have also distorted the UK's potential market share and he claims that up to £5bn could come back to the UK economy if Britain was able to reclaim its original fishing grounds.

He said: "The EU fishing industry is presently worth £6.4bn. Approximately 70% of this catch is taken from what were once British fishing grounds now governed by the European Union and opened up to vessels from other member states. I say, let's take those waters back."

Ending his plea to farmers at the Brexit conference to vote to leave the EU, he said the economic evidence is clear that Britain's farmers would have a buoyant future outside union.

He said: "Therefore we have a case that allows us to not only milk this cow and cut its throat, but allows us to point at this cow and say it's a dead corpse anyway."