Ben Underwood: We must move on from the hangover of the EU referendum

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The Prime Minister set out three key positions on UK Brexit policy on January 17, including leaving the single market, not looking to be a full member of the EU customs union and that the deal should include a phased implementation.

It is important that we take these three positions as the basis for the next phase of discussions on Brexit policy and how it affects the rural economy.

We must move on from some of the arguments that have been a hangover of the referendum.

The Prime Minister has set out clearly her trade ambitions. We fully support her plan to secure the best possible free trade agreement with the EU.

Our aim must be to retain tariff free access for all products and all parts of the agri-food supply chain. We will continue to provide whatever support we can to help in securing this vital outcome.

We are more cautious about the consequences of new trade deals with other countries and markets.

We understand and support the principle that post-Brexit, the government will pursue a range of trade agreements that can bring benefits to the UK economy as a whole.

However, we will urge the government to consider closely the balance of opportunity and risk for the agri-food sector that is specific to each and every potential deal available to the UK post-Brexit.

The type of Brexit the Prime Minister has set out is a dramatic change and it will have a particularly major impact on UK farming.

We therefore welcome the Prime Minister’s reassurances about avoiding economic cliff edges and the importance of a phased implementation.

Getting this implementation phase right will be critical to the livelihoods of farmers and the future of rural communities across Britain.