THE NFU has again repeated its warning that a no deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the UK's food and farming sector.

President Minette Batters was responding to the House of Commons voting against the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday night.

She said: "The country now finds itself in a situation where a no-deal Brexit appears to be increasingly likely. I have been clear that such an exit would simply be catastrophic for Britain and its food and farming sector and the country’s ability to produce home-grown food.

“A no-deal Brexit could lead to huge disruption as a result of an effective trade embargo on the export of animals and animal products to the EU leaving many livestock farmers with no market for their produce. At the same time, we know that the Government would choose to unilaterally lower import tariffs on food. Let’s be clear about that, if that happened Britain would be actively encouraging food imports from all over the world potentially produced to food standards lower than is legally allowed by UK farmers.

“This would leave our own farmers facing the devastating outcome of having limited markets for their own produce while at the same time being undercut by low standard imports.

“Such a move would leave Britain with a weakened ability to produce its own food. Once the tap of British food production is turned off, it would be very hard to turn it on again. Nobody would benefit from this.

“A no-deal Brexit has to be avoided at all costs. The NFU has been clear that reaching a Brexit deal is a priority and we will be assessing any deal against our six key principles agreed at an Extraordinary meeting of the NFU’s Council in December, which includes avoiding a no-deal and ensuring free and frictionless trade with our biggest trading partner."

Tim Breitmeyer, CLA president, said: "Losing the vote at this critical stage means rural businesses continue to face significant uncertainty on the nature of the UK's departure from the EU.

"With Brexit only three months away we need urgent clarity from the Prime Minister on her next steps and how she plans to deliver a Brexit which provides the opportunities that leaving the EU presents, whilst ensuring no harm to farming, the rural economy and communities across the countryside, This must include the free and frictionless trade between the UK and EU, on which many rural businesses depend."