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Lord Deben tells Suffolk EU Alliance’s ‘Cafe Continental’ conference ‘countryside will be significantly poorer’ after Brexit

PUBLISHED: 23:58 04 November 2017

Lord Deben addresses the audience. Picture: GEORGE HARVEY

Lord Deben addresses the audience. Picture: GEORGE HARVEY

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Suffolk advocates for the UK to remain in the European Union say their movement is gathering momentum after a former cabinet minister and serving MP attended their latest conference.

Suffolk EU Alliance's Cafe Contiental at The Cut, Halesworth. Picture: GEORGE HARVEYSuffolk EU Alliance's Cafe Contiental at The Cut, Halesworth. Picture: GEORGE HARVEY

The Suffolk EU Alliance’s second “Cafe Continental” was held on Saturday to recruit new members, raise the group’s profile and promote the view that “Brexit is not a done deal”.

Around 170 “remainers” packed The Cut in Halesworth to hear from key speakers including Lord Deben, Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, forensic researcher Sophie Ellis and Rob Davidson from Scientists EU.

Lord Deben, who was Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer before his peerage, told the audience: “We are not necessarily going to leave the European Union – it’s not a done deal.”

In a speech described as “statesman-like” by audience members, Lord Deben highlighted the numerous benefits he associated with remaining in the EU as well as the losses he felt the country would suffer by leaving.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey received a 'boisterous' response. Picture: GEORGE HARVEYSuffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey received a 'boisterous' response. Picture: GEORGE HARVEY

The former agriculture minister warned Suffolk’s countryside “will be significantly poorer” outside the EU.

“The £3billion coming into the countryside from the EU will be taken away,” he said. “The British Treasury may give something to farmers to begin with, but then will give nothing.”

Mr Brake also gave a grim assessment of Brexit, highlighting the country’s reliance on European workers and the difficulties he envisaged in striking deals with countries such as the US. He said the Liberal Democrats would push for a further referendum on the deal the government secured on Brexit.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who campaigned for “remain” but now accepts Brexit also took to the stage to lead a question and answer session, She was reported to have provoked a “boisterous” response from the audience, however, by taking the Government’s line in following through with Brexit.

Suffolk EU Alliance chairman Jules Ewart, speaking after the meeting, said the “anger and disbelief” shown by the audience indicated “even sleepy old Suffolk might experience a Macron moment of uprising against the right’s arrogance”. “I will do all in my power to share with Suffolk just why we should remain,” she added. “Sure, reform the EU, but for goodness’ sake, remain on the team.”

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