* Farmers seek tariff-free access to EU post-Brexit
* UK election result shows need for change in strategy
By Nigel Hunt
BOOTHBY GRAFFOE, England, June 14 Britain's
government must change its strategy at Brexit talks following
last week's inconclusive general election result, taking a more
conciliatory approach, Meurig Raymond, president of the National
Farmers Union said on Wednesday.
"The government must ask itself, did the general election
give the prime minister the mandate for the Brexit she sought. I
would suggest not," Raymond said at the arable industry's major
annual event, Cereals 2017.
Britain's general election last week resulted in the ruling
Conservative party losing its overall majority in parliament. It
is seeking to continue governing with the support of Northern
Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party.
"It is time the UK government took a more collaborative and
consensual approach to Brexit. In my opinion it is the only way
forward," Raymond said.
"It means taking a more conciliatory approach in the EU
negotiations, working in better partnership with the EU to
ensure an outcome which is mutually beneficial to both sides."
The farmers' leader said the most important issue for the
agricultural sector was the need to ensure "continued tariff
free trade and frictionless access to the single (EU) market."
He said that could take place either through a sophisticated
customs agreement or continued membership of the Customs Union.
The government minister responsible for farming has changed
since last week's election, with Michael Gove taking over from
Raymond said he had a 40-minute telephone conversation with
Gove on Tuesday and would be meeting him on Friday.
Gove is a former education and justice minister before
losing his place in the government last year. He was widely seen
as a reformer whose views were often controversial.
"Whether he is going to be a reforming secretary of state
I'm not too certain but we (now) have a very prominent member of
the government at DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs)," Raymond said.
"He is highly ambitious. Putting that all together I believe
he is going to have to champion food and farming in the months
ahead and the impression I had yesterday is that he is prepared
to do that so I am heartened."
(Reporting by Nigel Hunt; Editing by Mark Potter)