Britain will protect its key industries after Brexit says Portsmouth leader

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LEAVING the EU will not hit the pockets of our fishermen, farmers and universities.

That’s the defiant message Portsmouth City Council’s boss is giving today as the fall-out from last week’s historic EU referendum vote continues.

I have every confidence that my future, my children’s future and the future of Portsmouth will be brighter outside of the EU

Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council leader

Donna Jones – who became the first council chief to openly back Brexit earlier this year – said she was ‘confident’ Britain would continue to back key industries which currently receive billions in benefits from the UK’s tie with the European Union.

It comes as Brexit critics fear Britain’s move to axe links with the EU will see millions wiped from university research funding and could hit the wages of farmers and fishermen.

Cllr Jones hit back saying she was sure central government would continue to back these industries and that they would flourish in a Britain not bound by EU regulations.

She added it was right the UK didn’t ‘rush into leaving the union’ and ‘took its time’ to negotiate a proper exit deal.

‘It would be a shock to all the British economy in the UK if research grants to universities dried up in two years,’ she said.

‘Farmers and fishermen need time to rebuild their businesses to make sure they can be successful.

‘I am sure the exchequer will use the money spent on Europe to support arts, culture and in supporting farmers and fishermen.’

European Union subsidies for British farmers amount to £2.4bn to £3bn a year, depending on exchange rates, and help keep the sector afloat.

But the National Farmers Union warned that 55 per cent of farmers’ pay was propped up by EU cash and stressed it was vital this funding was protected.

It comes as the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations warned that, despite pledges by the Leave campaign, fishermen cannot expect to be granted greater catches after the UK leaves the EU, and they may face increased economic turmoil.

But Cllr Jones said that the nation’s economic future will improve once the impact of ‘project fear’ had faded.

‘I have every confidence that my future, my children’s future and the future of Portsmouth will be brighter outside of the EU,’ she said,

‘If I could vote on it again I would absolutely vote leave.’