Cumbrian farmers could pay the price of a no deal Brexit with the Government in a “panic” over the issue, a meeting has heard.

County councillors have raised concerns over what will happen to local farmers and Cumbrian exporters if the UK crashes out of the EU.

At a meeting of Cumbria County Council in Kendal, Councillor Roger Liddle asked what assessment the authority had made for a no deal Brexit.

Lord Liddle said many county farmers and firms relied on the EU for exports but faced “massive hold-ups” at Dover which would hit their competitiveness.

Lord Liddle, the Labour councillor for Wigton, is a former European advisor to both Tony Blair, and the President of the European Commission.

He told the meeting: “Hill farmers are on the margins of existence but we also know a lot of our lamb is exported to France and will face huge tariffs on that.”

County council leader Stewart Young said the Government was in a “panic”.

It had sent documents to the council four days before Christmas on preparations local authorities should make in readiness of a no deal.

Coun Young said: “A lot of farmers have started the lambing season. Farmers around Cumbria are out there now, working day and night in the cold and the wet.

“What is going to happen to those lambs if we crash out and where are they going to find a market for them? These are the consequences and there are no answers coming from the Government or anywhere else.”

Coun Young, who leads the Labour and Liberal Democrat administration on the council, said he was extremely concerned.

He said: “We will do what we can to mitigate this but I have to say it will not be enough. The consequences are profound. Quite where people are going to find a market for their goods in the absence of any trade deal, I don’t know.

“We would become the only country in the entire world that is trading on World Trade Organisation terms and conditions.”

He added: “I listened to Michael Gove stand up in the referendum campaign and say don’t worry about it. Don’t worry, if there isn’t a deal, we’ll be fine, everything will be fine. He said to the farmers the other day that if we come out with a no deal they will face a 40 per cent tariff on lamb and beef exports to the European Union. What is that going to do to our farming businesses?"

Coun Young said central Government was trying to “pass the buck”.

“I have to be absolutely clear that there is no way this authority, or any other authority in Cumbria, or anywhere else in the country, in the length of time we have been given, and without the proper resources, would be able to put in place all the measures that would be required to mitigate against a no deal Brexit.

“That’s a statement of fact. The Government seems to be lining up a scapegoat so that when it all goes pear-shaped they can say “we told local government to sort it out and they haven’t.”