Farmers' protest London: Why were tractors blocking the roads around Westminster?

More than a hundred tractors rolled past the Houses of Parliament as farmers protested against government policy since Brexit.
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Over a hundred tractors rolled past the Houses of Parliament as farmers protested against government policy which “fails to protect British animal welfare and environmental standards for imports”.

Tractors taking part in the go-slow protest on Monday evening (March 25) made their way through central London's streets to Westminster.

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Some were flying the Union Jack flags, while others were carrying signs with phrases such as 'Save British farming' and 'no farming, no food, no future'.

Tractor protest outside Houses of ParliamentTractor protest outside Houses of Parliament
Tractor protest outside Houses of Parliament

Why are farmers protesting?

Organisers Save British Farming and Fairness for Farmers of Kent are calling for an end to a number of post-Brexit trade deals, which they claim are allowing imports into the country that fall short of UK standards.

Farmers say that since the Brexit vote they have been undercut by poor quality food from abroad.

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On top of that, campaigners say the government does not care enough about maintaining food sufficiency. This is the proportion of homegrown food that Britons eat in the UK. It currently stands at between 55% and 60%.

Farmers believe more needs to be done to support their businesses and ensure that the UK does not become too reliant on exports.

What are campaigners saying?

Founder of campaign group Save British Farming Liz Webster said: "Farming is fraught with risks: risks that have intensified every year with the climate emergency, Ukraine war and Brexit reality which have only served to exacerbate problems.

Rishi Sunak loves to use gimmicky campaign slogans about British farming when elections loom and he needs votes, but, in truth, his government has shown us they just don’t care about British farming or food. They want to leave us reliant on food imports which are bad for public health, the environment, animal welfare and exacerbate the climate crisis.”

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Jeff Gibson, founder of Kent Fairness for Farmers, said: “It’s so important that our message about substandard imports, dishonest labelling and concerns for food security is heard.

“With an election looming, we want to ensure the next incoming government takes up our cause.”

What has the government said?

At the National Farmers Union conference last month Rishi Sunak said “we don’t celebrate” farmers enough. He continued: “And so, on behalf of the nation, I just wanted to say: thank you. Biggest change in a generation.

“Now while the importance of farmers will never change – farming is going through its biggest change in a generation. And as you do so, this government will be by your side.”

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He added: “Thanks to you we enjoy good quality food all year round - global events – including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – have put food security back at the top of the agenda. We’ll never take our food security for granted.”

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