Worried farmers quizzed the Home Secretary over their fears about a no-deal Brexit as she visited Cumbria.

Priti Patel, one of the highest-ranking politicians in Boris Johnson’s government, took questions at Mitchell’s Auction Mart in Cockermouth during a day-long visit to Cumbria.

There, the Conservative discussed a number of issues with local farmers, including the challenges of Brexit for agriculture, the importance of farming, the impact of social media on the industry and technology.

Farmers spoke about the fears of a no-deal Brexit, the importance of highlighting the benefits of eating meat and the challenges the farming industry was facing.

Leading figures in the county’s agriculture industry have repeatedly spoken of their fears about the impact of leaving the EU without a deal on trade in what is a key plank of Cumbria’s economy.

In a pre-election campaign visit, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn heard from hill farmers their concerns about the future of farming in Cumbria and further afield.

Andrew Wright, head of land agency at Mitchell’s, said: “It’s always good to see prominent politicians coming to speak to the farming community, they have their policies and we put our point across.

“We want to see a steady agricultural policy going far beyond Brexit, it’s important we don’t just get a short term fix.

“A no-deal Brexit would not be a good position to be in for sheep farming for example.”

When challenged about the difficulties of a no-deal Brexit for the farming community, Ms Patel said: “There’s only one position: We have a deal.”

She added it was important for democracy that the result of the referendum was respected and Brexit delivered.
Ms Patel was supporting Tory candidates Trudy Harrison in Copeland and Mark Jenkinson in Workington.

In Whitehaven, she joined canvassing on The Highlands estate.

While with Mrs Harrison, Ms Patel said of the candidate: “She’s a tour de force and I think she’s exactly what the constituency needs in Westminster. 

“She’s brought local issues to Westminster - she’s been a complete champion. She’s a strong voice for Copeland in Westminster and that’s incredibly important.”

Mrs Harrison said: “I think it’s brilliant to invite all ministers up because we are so far away from Westminster. It’s important people understand our challenges, particularly the infrastructure.

“Also for Priti to hear from people on the doorstep, how this community voted to leave and our votes are being ignored in parliament by the Labour party and the LiberalDemocrats. 

“Raising awareness of our needs in Copeland to the ministerial team is vital.”

Following the meeting in Cockermouth, Mr Jenkinson said he was pleased to receive Ms Patel’s visit as he backed the national party line and on law and order and increasing the strength of the police force.

When challenged about the Prime Minister’s pledge to recruit 20,000 police officers, which is the same amount that was cut during the last Tory Governments, he said: “Actually Cumbria has more police officers now than in 2012, no police officer roles were cut during the two Conservative police and crime commissioners’ terms.

“I accept that nationally the numbers have changed, but if you take into account long-term sickness at the beginning of the coalition Government, the actual numbers we’re getting in Cumbria are all additional.”

Ms Patel said: “When it comes to polling day, look at the ballot paper. 

“The choice will be between Boris Johnston’s Conservative Party - a party that wants to get Brexit done - or Mr Corbyn, and quite frankly, the shambolic proposals he’s got for Brexit and our country.”

Elsewhere, Ms Patel visited The Well Communities in Dalton Road to see the work of the drug rehabilitation group as part of the Conservatives’ general election campaign.

She praised the group for providing support for people with addiction issues and helping to tackle drug deaths in the area.
Appealing to voters in Barrow and Furness, she said: “People in this constituency have been let down over Brexit. It’s time for a change here.”

The seat sits on a knife-edge after the Tory candidate Simon Fell lost the 2017 election by only 209 votes to then Labour MP John Woodcock.