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Slow-moving tractor convoy descends on central London during rush hour: More than 100 furious farmers threaten to cause gridlock in capital as they assemble in Westminster for angry protest over government support

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A huge army of tractors have descended on London during evening rush hour today to protest against ‘substandard imports and dishonest labelling’ that farms warn are threatening food security.

The campaign groups Save British Farming and Fairness for Farmers of Kent have assembled for a ‘go-slow’ convoy and drive around Westminster which started at 6pm – with organisers expecting as many as 100 tractors as well as other farm vehicles. 

Convoys of tractors have been seen across London waving Union flags and holding signs reading ‘no farmers, no food, no future’. Fortunately for their drivers, specialist agricultural vehicles are exempt from Sadiq Khan‘s £12.50 ULEZ charge.

Protesters, who gathered in New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms – are raising concerns over the increasing difficulties faced by the British farming industry that they say are leaving the nation’s food security at risk.

They are calling for an end to trade deals which they say are allowing imports of food produced to standards that would be illegal in the UK and undercutting British farmers.

Farmers are taking part in a tractor 'go-slow' in central London to raise awareness of the difficulties for the British farming industry

Farmers are taking part in a tractor ‘go-slow’ in central London to raise awareness of the difficulties for the British farming industry 

Tractors are seen going slowly along Westminster this evening for the protest

Tractors are seen going slowly along Westminster this evening for the protest 

Tractors line the road in central London to highlight the difficulties in the farming industry

Tractors line the road in central London to highlight the difficulties in the farming industry 

Signs at the protest are embellished with phrases such as 'Beep for freedom'

Signs at the protest are embellished with phrases such as ‘Beep for freedom’ 

Slow-moving tractors are seen making their way to London for the protest this evening

Slow-moving tractors are seen making their way to London for the protest this evening 

A convoy of tractors from Kent heading towards central London for a protest in Westminster tonight

A convoy of tractors from Kent heading towards central London for a protest in Westminster tonight 

A map shows the journey the slow-moving tractors will take in and around London today

A map shows the journey the slow-moving tractors will take in and around London today 

Convoys of tractors have been seen across London, threatening traffic chaos during a busy time of the day

Convoys of tractors have been seen across London, threatening traffic chaos during a busy time of the day

An aerial view of the Kent tractor convoy heading towards the capital for tonight's demo

An aerial view of the Kent tractor convoy heading towards the capital for tonight’s demo 

Organisers also criticise labelling that allows products to bear a Union flag when they have not been grown or reared in Britain.

Wiltshire beef and arable farmer and Save British Farming founder Liz Webster said the situation risked food security and the nation’s health.

Trade deals with New Zealand, Australia, and the CPTPP deal with 11 countries including Canada, Japan and Mexico, along with a lack of import checks, were allowing lower standard foods into the country, she said.

British producers had also lost the level playing field with EU farmers and within the UK, Ms Webster warned.

She said European farmers were still receiving subsidies, had freedom of movement for labour, and had continued to have access to British markets, enabling them to undercut farmers in Britain.

Ms Webster said the current situation was ‘like going out with the English football team to the World Cup and saying ”off you go, you’ve got chains on your legs and chains on your hands”. We are completely and utterly disadvantaged’.

At the same time, the new English agricultural policy of paying farmers for environmental measures such as habitat creation was taking land out of food production, she said.

Ms Webster said: ‘In 2019, this Government was elected with a mandate to uphold our standards and deliver a ready-made deal with the EU which would see British agriculture boom.

‘It is now entirely obvious that they have totally betrayed us all.

‘Polling shows that the public back British farming and food and want to maintain our high food standards and support local producers.

‘We need a radical change of policy and an urgent exit from these appalling trade deals which will decimate British food.’

She criticised the Government for changing its trade and agricultural policies, and then not monitoring food security closely enough, warning the UK could have to compete with other countries for supplies.

Footage shows tractors moving slowly across the roads as they make their way towards London

Footage shows tractors moving slowly across the roads as they make their way towards London 

A tractor can be seen among heavy traffic as it makes its way towards London today

A tractor can be seen among heavy traffic as it makes its way towards London today 

Farmers draped signs from their tractors reading 'back British farmers'

Farmers draped signs from their tractors reading ‘back British farmers’ 

A convoy of tractors gathering on the A20, near Wrotham, in Kent, before heading to London to join the protest

A convoy of tractors gathering on the A20, near Wrotham, in Kent, before heading to London to join the protest 

Organisers expect at least 100 tractors to be involved in tonight's demo in London

Organisers expect at least 100 tractors to be involved in tonight’s demo in London 

This farmer attached a sign to their tractor reading 'no farmers, no food, no future'

This farmer attached a sign to their tractor reading ‘no farmers, no food, no future’ 

Protesters called on ministers to 'back British farming' amid concern over cheap imports

Protesters called on ministers to ‘back British farming’ amid concern over cheap imports 

Jeff Gibson, founder of Kent Fairness for Farmers, said: 'It's so important that our message about substandard imports, dishonest labelling and concerns for food security is heard'

Jeff Gibson, founder of Kent Fairness for Farmers, said: ‘It’s so important that our message about substandard imports, dishonest labelling and concerns for food security is heard’

And Ms Webster called for alignment with European regulations to support British farmers.

Jeff Gibson, founder of Kent Fairness for Farmers, said: ‘It’s so important that our message about substandard imports, dishonest labelling and concerns for food security is heard.

‘With an election looming, we want to ensure the next incoming government takes up our cause.’

Geoffrey Philpott, a cauliflower farmer in east Kent, who is bringing three tractors to the rally, said: ‘I hope to be farming for many years to come, but if things don’t change, I won’t be and I won’t be employing the 14 people who work for me.

‘Then we will be reliant on foreign produce that will not have the high standard of UK production.

‘Once that happens, we could be held to ransom over supply and pricing.’

Farmers gathering this afternoon on the A20, near Wrotham, in Kent, before heading into London

Farmers gathering this afternoon on the A20, near Wrotham, in Kent, before heading into London 

Other vehicles are also taking part, including this 4x4

Other vehicles are also taking part, including this 4×4 

Farmers in France are taking part in an 'indefinite tractor siege' of Paris. Pictured is a farmer leaving a hay bale on a road near Paris's main airport  yesterday

Farmers in France are taking part in an ‘indefinite tractor siege’ of Paris. Pictured is a farmer leaving a hay bale on a road near Paris’s main airport  yesterday 

Police officers watch over dozens of tractors taking part in a demonstration on the A15 motorway near Argenteuil, north of Paris, France, January 29

Police officers watch over dozens of tractors taking part in a demonstration on the A15 motorway near Argenteuil, north of Paris, France, January 29



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