Andrea Leadsom hints farmers could continue to hire EU migrants after Brexit for seasonal work

In a speech the Environment Secretary said she was aware how important the labour is to the agricultural industry 

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 04 January 2017 20:55
Comments
The Environment Secretary has previously suggested more young Britons could do some of the fruit picking and farm labouring jobs done by EU migrants
The Environment Secretary has previously suggested more young Britons could do some of the fruit picking and farm labouring jobs done by EU migrants

Andrea Leadsom, the Environment Secretary, has hinted that farmers could continue to hire EU migrants to carry out seasonal agricultural work after Brexit.

In a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, Ms Leadsom, a leading figure in the Leave campaign during the EU referendum, said she was aware how important the labour is to the agricultural industry.

Despite the Government consistently insisting to introduce a tougher immigration system, she added: “I’ve heard this loud and clear around the country, whether in Herefordshire, Sussex, or Northamptonshire, and I want to pay tribute to the many workers from Europe who contribute so much to our farming industry and rural communities.

“Access to labour is very much an important part of our current discussions – and we’re committed to working with you to make sure you have the right people with the right skills.”

Ms Leadsom has previously suggested that more young Britons could do some of the fruit picking and farm labouring jobs done by EU migrants. Speaking at the Conservative conference in October, she added: "We could get British people doing those jobs and that tempts me to stray into the whole issue of why wages aren't higher and so on.

"My absolute hope is that with more apprenticeships, with more young people being encouraged to engage with countryside matters, that actually the concept of a career in food production is going to be much more appealing going forward."

Elsewhere in her speech at the Oxford Farming Conference on Wednesday, Ms Leadsom added that EU rules that required farmers to grow three different crops each year should be abandoned after Brexit – allowing 40,000 farmers to grow the crops they want.

Rachael Maskell, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, said: "Despite some warm words from Andrea Leadsom today, her department's continued failure to outline a plan for Brexit is deeply disappointing.

"Rural communities, and the farming and fishing industries that help sustain them, deserve better.

"What's more, as the Environmental Audit Committee highlights, the Government's silence on whether important EU environmental protection laws will be maintained is also a matter of serious concern.

"No matter where they live, people in this country deserve legal protections for their right to clean air and water, and I continue to urge the Government to guarantee that existing levels of protection will not be watered down."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in