CONSERVATIVE PARTY leader Boris Johnson has secured a resounding victory in the UK's snap General Election, returning to power with 364 Commons seats, and a majority of 78 – more than enough for him to get his Brexit deal through parliament in time for his promised January 31 departure from the European Union.

In contrast, the election was a disaster for the Labour Party, which suffered its worst defeat since 1935, losing seats across northern England, the Midlands and Wales, as traditionally Labour areas which voted strongly to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum apparently forsook party loyalty to ensure that their earlier decision was enacted.

But while the situation south of the Border is now one of Tory dominance not see since the days of Margaret Thatcher, the result in Scotland was an equally decisive one in favour of the SNP, which saw its seats at Westminster jump from 35 to 48, while the Conservatives and Labour lost seven and six Scottish seats apiece.

Just as Mr Johnson can hail today's result as a firm English mandate for the completion of his Brexit project, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon can argue that Scottish voters have once again endorsed her party's central policy of independence. With key losses for the DUP in Northern Ireland, and Her Majesty's Opposition in disarray, the UK's political battle lines are now very clearly drawn at its internal borders.

Offering his early reaction to the result, NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick welcomed the unambiguous nature of the Tory win, and voiced his hope that it set the scene for the certainty that farmers needed to plan ahead.

“The scale of the election win for the Government brings the reality that, after two years of political stagnation, the UK will leave the European Union," said Mr McCornick.

“There is no doubt that dither and delay has stifled confidence within the Scottish agricultural and food sectors, and it is vital that the new UK Government takes early steps to give certainty.

“The Government has indicated that the necessary legislation to leave the EU on January 31 will be presented to parliament next week," he noted. "Once passed, the real work then begins on agreeing the future trading arrangements with Europe. Those talks are critical to the future of our industry.

“It is these negotiations that will be the real bread and butter of Brexit for NFU Scotland members. That is where the terms of the trade deal between the UK and the EU will be agreed. For NFUS, ensuring as free and as frictionless trade in agri-food goods with the EU, which remains our principal market outside of the UK, has been our priority from the start of this process.

“Whether negotiating with the EU, or establishing new trade deals with other countries worldwide, a red line for us is that Scotland’s high standards must be recognised and protected," he stressed.

“Our members can be reassured that their union has begun engagement with this new parliament today and we will make tracks to Westminster at the earliest opportunity as we enter a new era for Scottish farming and crofting.”

National Sheep Association chief executive Phil Stocker commented: "During the course of the General Election campaign, the Prime Minister repeatedly made promises and assurances about Brexit, and the NSA will do everything it can, working with others where beneficial, to hold the Government to account and provide security for the British sheep industry.

“As far as the sheep industry is concerned, the best thing we can do is accept the nation's decision and move forward. We have some strong assurances from the Prime Minister; that a no deal at the end of 2020 should not be feared because a free trade deal with the EU can be reached by the end of 2020; that no restrictions/hurdles/paperwork will be needed relating to movement of goods between our mainland and Northern Ireland; and that British farmers will be protected from lower standard and cheaper products entering the UK market.
"The country has put its trust in the prime minister and his Government to deliver on these and other crucial promises and NSA will play its part in ensuring these promises are fulfilled. We expect the Agriculture Bill, the Environment Bill, and the Food Plan to quickly come back to the table in a co-ordinated way that offers a secure future for our farmers."

The NSA suggested that there were still outstanding Conservative proposals that had 'not been adequately discussed and are completely lacking in practical sense'. 

Mr Stocker said: Shortly before the election there was talk of a policy that would limit farmers to only selling stock to their most local abattoir. Our letter to Sec of State Theresa Villiers received a completely inadequate response and this, along with announcements about a blanket ban on live exports is irrational and would lead to outcomes completely opposite to that intended. We have seen good examples where Government and industry can work together for shared objectives but we need to see consistency in this approach across all decision making.”

In Northern Ireland, Farmers For Action's steering committee commented: “The Political Landscape has now changed across the UK and Brexit certainty looks set – however, the farmers' lot remains the same facing the might of the food corporate empires on farm gate prices.

"The questions for FFA are – will Stormont’s politicians now get back to work and will Boris Johnston’s Government back us with legislation on farm gate prices for Northern Ireland, or will his Government cuddle up to the money and wealth of the corporate food retailers and corporate food wholesalers and block this lifeline Bill which is waiting for Stormont to return to work?"