According To Edwards ... Political decisions key to UK trade after leaving the EU

I voted to remain in the EU and it took me a while to get my head around the fact that we are leaving. I have never doubted that the UK could do well outside the EU. My concern is that to do well the right political decisions need to be made.

The referendum did not concern itself with those decisions, it simply asked "in" or "out". Now that we are leaving we have to make the most of the fact and to me that means we have to influence those political decisions that must now be taken.

Never in my working life has the UK had an agricultural policy - we have adopted what the EU offered. Neither has Government had in place the infrastructure to develop an agricultural policy. Instead it has contributed to what the EU has in place.

The referendum did not ask what that infrastructure should look like nor how it should be paid for, but that will have to be considered now. Let's hope the politicians make the right political decisions.

The UK will now get to construct its own agricultural policy and that could prove to be a very good thing for horticulture - just so long as our politicians make the correct decisions.

We are about to enter a period of high inflation with sterling low against major currencies. Without doubt, the Government will conclude that exports should play a big part in solving economic problems.

But for nursery stock - and indeed for many edible crops - import substitution is every bit as good for the economy as exports. Sadly though, import substitution is seen as less sexy.

It will take some effort to convince the Government that what our sector needs is encouragement to strive for import substitution. It will also take a big effort to ensure that the Government provides incentives that will result in growers investing in further production in this country.

I have never known times like these. I have never known times when we needed the level of dialogue with Government that we need right now. I hope our that our trade bodies are up to the job - and I hope that trade members are willing and able to step forward to help.

Tim Edwards is chairman of Boningale Nurseries

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