Responding to the announcement from the Prime Minister today that there could be an extension of Article 50 if her deal is voted down on March 12, NFU President Minette Batters said: “The NFU has always maintained that leaving the EU without a deal would be a catastrophe for British farming.

“Today’s statement by the Prime Minister that there may be a vote on extending Article 50 if her deal is voted down does lessen the chances of leaving with no deal 16 days later on March 29.

“However, any extension of Article 50 does not take ‘no deal’ off the table completely, it would simply delay the exit date.

“The Prime Minister has said any such extension would not be lengthy. Therefore there would continue to be no certainty for British farmers as to what our trading relationship would be with the EU after this date.

“I maintain it is unacceptable for British businesses, including farmers, to be in this position. It is vital that, if there is to be an extension, that time is spent productively by parliament in delivering a deal which will work for Britain.

“Simply delaying Article 50 and the associated uncertainty is not going to help British farmers and food producers – and wider British business – by itself.”