A SOMERSET politician has hit back agrily at claims by South-West farmers that they have been 'betrayed' over Brexit by the region's MPs.

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger says the remark is ‘insulting beyond belief’ – and has accused farmers of having only the faintest grasp of how hard their representatives actually work.

In a statement released on Wednesday, regional NFU chairman Mark Weekes accused the MPs of not doing enough to back the agriculture industry during the run-up to Brexit.

“Despite the warm words we are offered when politicians meet with us, they don’t seem inclined to do anything to safeguard our industry,” he said.

“Farmers’ backs are against the wall, both financially and emotionally, and at the moment I am not sure how we are going to cope with what might be about to happen.

"We are absolutely not anti-Brexit, but we are concerned about the consequences of no-deal.

"What we need to see is some concrete support for the industry to mitigate the short and longer-term shocks that a no-deal Brexit will inevitably bring to our supply chains, allied trades and the wider rural economy.

"To be clear, any Brexit must be orderly to enable our fantastic agri-food sector to flourish."

A majority of farmers voted in favour of leaving the EU but, said Mr Liddell-Grainger, if any of them had believed it possible simply to walk away from Europe with a perfect deal then they had been 'deluding themselves'.

“That would be tantamount to a kidnap hostage setting the terms for their release,” he said.

“It was never going to be a simple process – the choice was always going to be between a difficult deal and a slightly less difficult one.

“Now that we appear to be heading for the more difficult one the farmers seem to be looking for someone to blame.

"But in picking on the south-west MPs they are making a grave error.

“Of course we understand farming, as we always have. Of course we accept it has a huge role to play in the regional economy. Of course we understand the challenges farmers will face outside Europe. Of course we can sympathise with them when they are faced with so much uncertainty.

“But we have put long hours into drawing up the Agriculture Bill under the leadership of Neil Parish in order to offer farmers the maximum support when we step outside the EU and to provide them with as much protection as possible in a new trading environment.

“However when policies are being drawn up on such huge scales the southwest MPs, for all their efforts, can only wield so much influence.

“I had expected something rather more considered from the NFU. As it is it has decided to shoot from the hip at the nearest available target, issuing a statement that is insulting beyond belief.

“I am afraid this is yet another result of the NFU hierarchy living in a bubble rather than the real world. Well, this is the real world of the Brexit they voted for and these are the challenges they said they were ready to take up. Let’s see them doing it rather than whingeing.”