A Co Down horse trainer has warned that a no-deal Brexit will have serious consequences for the racing and breeding industries.
Brian Hamilton expressed concerns over the possibility of travel restrictions, long delays at customs checks and tariffs in the event of a breakdown of the tripartite agreement that ensures freedom of movement for horses from the UK to Ireland and France.
His fears, which were echoed by Gigginstown House Stud boss Eddie O’Leary, came as the French government and Eurotunnel started taking practical steps to deal with the possibility of Britain leaving without a deal.
Measures include the construction in Calais of two border inspection points which will have capacity for veterinary checks on horses entering France if Britain becomes a ‘third-party country’ on March 29.
Mr Hamilton hit out at the lack of government in Northern Ireland and criticised the DUP’s attitude towards Brexit.
“I’m in the dark. I think it’s terrible,” he told the Racing Post.
“We’ve no government here and it’s pathetic. The way the DUP are operating, it’s just a joke in terms of people in the farming and horse industry.
“I voted to stay in the EU… the British people were voting about something they didn’t know anything about. Nobody was fit to tell them how things were going to go. I have horses for people in the South and I don’t know which way it’s going to go if there’s a no-deal Brexit.
“It’s no benefit to anyone. The Government in Northern Ireland doesn’t support racing.
“I hope that there will be another referendum. Hopefully the situation resolves itself, or else we’ll be out of a job.”
Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh said he would hold talks with the British and French racing authorities this week over fears Britain could crash out without a deal.
Mr O’Leary, who manages Gigginstown for his brother Michael, said he was concerned by the information deficit.
“We all thought two years ago that this would sail through but, unfortunately, British politicians are a bit like Irish politicians in that they put the party before the country,” he added.
“We need to go through the process of what would happen at border inspection posts. We are in discussions with the department of agriculture and the customs officers about this.”