Dr Tim Leunig, one of the Government’s most senior advisors, has caused outrage after leaked emails claimed that Britain should abandon farmers and fishermen and move towards the model set by Singapore.
The Mail on Sunday published the emails which contained messages from Leunig, claiming that the food sector was ‘not critically important’ to the UK economy.
It also revealed how Leunig, the economic adviser to the Chancellor, suggested following the model of Singapore, a country that ‘is rich without having its own agricultural sector.’
Speaking to Sky News, president of the National Farmers Union, Minette Batters, said: “There is a moral imperative for us to be able to produce food in this country. So absolutely we need our famers, and of course we are the bedrock of the largest manufacturing sector providing all those raw ingredients.
“Clearly, there is a cold economic case. But you have to look at the wider aspect of all of this: farms are the backbone of rural Britain. Surely the last thing we want to go to is importing cheaper, raw ingredients produced to lower standards. We export our conscience and our production.”
“Consumers want local, high standard, high welfare food. That’s what British farmers give us.”
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, also lamented Leunig’s claims: “For the avoidance of doubt, this idea is absolute nonsense. Food is a national security issue, and farming is vital to maintain our beautiful countryside and enhance our environment. Consumers want local, high standard, high welfare food. That’s what British farmers give us.”
Tony Goodger of the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), supported Kearns’ statement: “We support the words of Alicia Kearns MP and add that AIMS’ members value the work that our world class British Livestock farmers do. The animals they produce is key to our member’s businesses success and is also enjoyed by millions of British households daily.”
The emails were reported to be from Leunig’s personal emails, and Government has since distanced itself from the comments, releasing a statement which said: “We have made clear the comments are not in line with Government policy.”