British farmers could be "sacrificial lambs" if the UK seeks a free trade deal with India

Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

British farmers could lose out if Theresa May pursues a free-trade deal with India in the aftermath of the European referendum.

Analysis from the Westminster Policy Institute ranks India as one of the best prospects for a trade deal in the aftermath of Brexit.

Comparing the total economic value for the UK economy of a deal, as well as the likely ease and speed of agreeing terms, WPI economists rank India as the 6th best prospect for a bilateral agreement.

Read More: Britain has a moral duty to lead the world on free trade

But they also warn that EU talks over a free-trade have been stymied by subsidies in place for European farmers.

“Theresa May has the chance to achieve something that the EU hasn’t been able to do for 9 years - a trade deal with India.

“The Prime Minister will, however, be confronted with exactly the same problems as her European counterparts,” Former Downing Street adviser and WPI director Sean Worth said.

“UK farmers might end up becoming the sacrificial lambs on the altar of free trade.”

Read More: Britain can leapfrog the EU to win a free trade deal with the Gulf States

WPI's top rated prospects for trade deals include South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Brazil and China.

A spokesman for the Department for International Trade said: “As the UK leaves the EU, we will be working to secure new trading opportunities across the world to support and grow our economy and open up new markets to our farmers and producers.

“We are speaking to businesses, including in the agricultural sector, to make sure we fully understand the issues affecting different industries and will ensure that we produce the best possible outcomes for them and the British people.”

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