What does a hung parliament mean for the countryside?

It’s official, no party has secured enough votes to form a government and we now have a hung parliament. (If you’ve somehow slept through the last 24 hours, we recommend signing up to the Times Red Box email for political updates.)

While it’s too early to know exactly what the ramifications of this might be, the CLA has been first out of the gate in responding to the shock election result. CLA President Ross Murray said: “Immediate attention will inevitably be on the implications of this result for securing a Brexit deal that will work in the long-term interests of agriculture and the wider economy. We remain confident that the right deal can be done.

“However, the priorities extend well beyond Brexit. Our leaders have responsibility to work together to provide rural businesses the economic stability and confidence to grow and create jobs, as well as build the homes and infrastructure that rural communities need.

“Today is a time for calm heads and careful consideration of immediate questions, especially the timetable for Brexit negotiations. We are ready to work for our members whatever developments there are in coming days. “

Other countryside associations have yet to comment, but Farmers Weekly has a great round-up of rural reactions here.

Hunting, of course, was a hot election issue and we can expect this to now take a backseat as the focus shifts to gaining stability (and strength?) and tackling Brexit negotiations. Other than the Hunting Act pledge the Conservative manifesto was notoriously light on concrete promises for Britain’s rural areas, so it’s hard to tell what may be lost or gained in any new coalition arrangement. What is clear, however, is that now more than ever a clear guiding voice from the countryside organisations will be vital in safeguarding our rural areas.