Brexit: Gove says NI farmers will get post-Brexit subsidies

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Michael GoveImage source, AFP
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Michael Gove has said that subsidies will have to be earned rather than just handed out after Brexit

The environment secretary has sought to reassure farmers in Northern Ireland about the level of subsidies they will receive after Brexit.

Michael Gove was visiting the Antrim Show alongside DUP MPs Paul Girvan and Ian Paisley.

On Friday he said that subsidies after Brexit will have to be earned rather than just handed out.

Northern Ireland, with 3% of the population, currently receives almost 10% of the UK's EU farm subsidies.

Mr Gove said: "There will always be some areas of UK where more is spent on agriculture.

"Northern Ireland and upland areas of Scotland, Wales and England will receive support in future to ensure communities there can survive."

Farmers will only get payouts if they agree to protect the environment and enhance rural life, part of what Mr Gove calls his vision for a "green Brexit".

In Antrim he promised that the UK framework for agriculture would have the flexibility to allow the devolved administrations to make sure the policy is right for their areas.

Mr Gove did not define the limits of any framework, saying he has to consult the devolved administrations.

The Conservative Party manifesto pledged to keep overall farm subsidies at their current levels until 2022.

Sinn Féin said that Mr Gove pulled out of a prearranged meeting with them "without prior notice at the very last minute".

South Antrim MLA and party chairperson Declan Kearney said: "This is the latest example of the Tories' disrespect for voters in the north and is in default of the British government's responsibility as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement to be rigorously impartial in the political process.

"The Tory deal with the DUP is making it more difficult to reach a resolution to the current political difficulties in the north," he added.