“Leave, this week. Forget about extensions or delays, we need to go now”. This is the message from a Victoria Bridge farmer who wants to see Brexit happening as soon as possible.
Larry Rogers voted ‘leave’ back in 2016 and in the interim three years nothing has happened to make him question how he cast his vote. For the beef and dairy farmer it’s a simple choice.
“We have to go, end this quagmire. It’s a bit like when you fall out with the wife and you’re getting a divorce, You need to up sticks and go, then once you settle yourself you can look back and sort it all out. But once the decision has been made you need to go, end of story.”
Celebrating our differences
For Mr Rogers one of the biggest factors in seeking separation with the EU is federalisation.
“Come 2022 when the Lisbon Treaty is enacted everything will become centralised. Co-operation tax, income tax, everything will be in Brussels. It means Westminster and the Dáil would basically just be glorified councils – they won’t have any real power.
“I have nothing against anyone from a different country. I like going to Spain and France and wherever else and experiencing their food, their culture and their traditions. In a federal Europe all that will be diluted, which is wrong. We should all be celebrating our differences.”
And the Victoria Bridge man is not convinced by any economic arguments against Brexit, “All these economic experts are making predictions, but they don’t know what is going to happen. None of them were able to predict the crash of 2008 so why should we listen to them now?”
As a farmer Mr Rogers’ beliefs are at odds with the Ulster Farmers Union which has warned against a no deal Brexit. To the contrary he believes farmers have little to fear from Brexit.
“The British government has already promised to stand by any subsidies we receive until 2021/22, which is all the EU have guaranteed as well. And if the Single Farm Payment is stopped it means that the British government will have to impose tariffs on goods coming into the UK so that we are able to compete on a level playing field. There are ways round all of these issues.
“For farmers producing beef or milk or what have you, their goods will always find their prices. They are dictated by world trade price anyway so that won’t change. If milk supplies dwindle the price will rise, it’s simple supply and demand.
“There has been far too much scaremongering going on. Like when Leo Varadkar said he would ban British flights from going over Irish air space, that was just a ridiculous suggestion.”
‘It’s all scaremongering’
Living so close to the border Mr Rogers has little fears over any return of customs posts. “The British have said they don’t want customs posts, and if the EU decide they do, are they going to man them? Are they going to be standing there stopping people coming over to Asda for their groceries or stopping milk from Artigarvan, with a full paper trail, being delivered in the south? I don’t think so. It’s all scaremongering.”
Turning to the possibility of a border poll and of a united Ireland Mr Rogers added, “What would a border poll bring? A united Ireland controlled by Europe, it’s ridiculous. Come 2022, Ireland will have been free of British rule for just over 100 years but will see themselves under rule from a federal Europe, that’s all that’s going to happen.
“The EU is not as utopian as it sounds. Look at Greece, Portugal, Spain, a lot of the southern states are on their knees. And beef farmers in the republic are being absolutely crippled at the moment.
“Look at the NHS, where would that go in a federal Europe? It’s an invaluable service which we can’t afford to lose.”
Contributing to the economy
And Mr Rogers is adamant that his Brexit desires are nothing to do with immigration. “I have no problem with anyone coming here to work. I know people from Poland, Latvia, Germany etc who are living here and they all go out and work hard. Even after Brexit I would totally advocate giving visas to people who are willing to work hard. They are contributing to the economy and are very welcome. On the other hand the lazy lay-abouts who live here and won’t do a days work, if we could get them out that would be even better.”
Determined that Brexit means Brexit Mr Rogers adds, “Five years ago I wasn’t that bothered about leaving the EU, it’s only in the last two to three years that I have realised it’s all about control and federalisation, and I don’t want to be part of that. We may have some hardships to endure in the first year or two after we leave, but it will level out. For me it is infinitely better than being federalised, so that’s why we need to leave as soon as possible.”