Jeremy Hunt vows £6bn war chest to help farmers and fishermen hit by no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
1st July 2019

Jeremy Hunt has pledged to hand the farming and fishing industries a £6bn cash boost to help them cope with a no-deal Brexit if he becomes Prime Minister.

The Tory hopeful said the cash would help 'smooth those short-term difficulties'.
Credit: 
PA

The Conservative leadership contender will on Monday unveil a 10-point plan to "turbocharge" preparations for Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, including a financial crisis-style bailout for agriculture and fishing.

"You cannot leave the European Union on a wing and a prayer," he is expected to say.

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"Britain deserves better."

The Foreign Secretary will add: "If you're a sheep farmer in Shropshire or a fisherman in Peterhead I have a simple message for you - I know you face uncertainty if we have to leave the EU without a deal.

"I will mitigate the impact of 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 fishermen, farmers and small businesses now."

Mr Hunt's plan also includes using emergency powers to help ports and airports coordinate to keep goods flowing in the event of a no-deal, with work led by a new 'National Logistics Commmitee' in the Department for Transport.

He will also call for a no-deal Brexit budget, slashing corporation tax to 12.5% and taking 90% of high street firms out of paying business rates.

In all, the rescue package would be worth around £20bn.

In a veiled swipe at his Tory rival Boris Johnson, Mr Hunt will say: "Britain deserves a leader who works tirelessly to get a deal but who is prepared to put the hard yards in preparing for no-deal."

HUNT BUSINESS ROW

Mr Hunt has made clear that he would be willing to push Britain's EU departure date beyond 31 October if a Brexit deal with the bloc is in sight by that point.

But he has also vowed to press ahead with a no-deal Brexit if it appears no agreement can be struck.

On Sunday Mr Hunt came under fire from business groups after appearing to suggest that he would tell firms set to go bust under a no-deal Brexit that their sacrifice had been necessary.

In an interview with the Andrew Marr show, Mr Hunt said he would tell business owners that a no-deal Brexit would show that Britain is "a country where politicians do what the people tell them to do".

And he added: "If, in order to do what the people tell us to do, we have to leave without a deal, I would do that.

"But I would find support for those companies to help them weather the storms.”

But a spokesperson for manufacturing group Make UK told The Guardian that small companies were "the backbone of British industry, and the suggestion that losing them is a price worth paying leaves many speechless".

They added: "We call on any and every politician advocating no deal to think carefully about the enormous harm it would do to businesses and the millions of families who rely on them."

Claire Walker of the British Chambers of Commerce meanwhile said: "Politicians must remember that it is businesses that create jobs and opportunities across our communities, and it is the role of government to create the conditions necessary for these firms to survive and grow, now and in the future.

"A focus on ideology rather than practicalities does not serve the interests of the UK, or its people, well."