Image: David Wright
Image: David Wright

Jeremy Hunt has pledged a £6 billion fund for the farming and fishing industries in the event of a no-deal Brexit, if he becomes Prime Minister. 

Admitting that those in the industries will “face uncertainty” if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal on 31 October, Mr Hunt claims he would “help smooth it over”.

Mr Hunt is outlining his plans for a no-deal Brexit as he faces off against former foreign secretary Boris Johnson to become Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.

Explaining his pledge to the farming and fishing industries, the current foreign secretary believes it is a move similar to the banking bailout during the financial crisis.

If the UK were to leave without a deal, it would automatically trade under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, which means much higher tariffs for farmers and fishers in particular. The National Farmers Union has spoken out about the damaging effect such a move would have on farming in the UK.

Mr Hunt says the £6bn fund would come from the so-called ‘no-deal war chest’ set aside by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

In a speech, he said: “If you’re a sheep farmer in Shropshire or a fishermen in Peterhead I have a simple message for you. I know you face uncertainty if we have to leave the EU without a deal.

“I will mitigate the impact of a no-deal Brexit on you and step in to help smooth those short-term difficulties.

“If we could do it for the bankers in the financial crisis, we can do it for our fisherman, farmers and small businesses now.”

An estimated 160,000 Conservative Party members will begin voting on their next leader, and the next Prime Minister, next week. The winner is expected to be announced on 23 July.