A leading North Devon farmer and financial advisor has said the only thing certain about Brexit is the uncertainty.

Yarnscombe farmer John Edwards has been speaking to the Gazette about breaking away from Europe and the feared effect on farm subsidies.

The sheep and beef farmer is also a senior partner with accountancy practice and agriculture specialist Haines Watts South West, which has offices in Barnstaple, Bideford, Okehampton and Launceston.

He said: “The biggest problem with Brexit is uncertainty, no one knows.

“Politically Europe are furious with us and emotionally would like to punish us. In practical terms they wonder how much punishment they can exert and still have a trading surplus – they sell us more than we sell them.

“The potential danger from an agricultural viewpoint is the agricultural priorities may be relegated secondary, sacrificed to protect other industries considered more important to the UK economy as a whole.”

“We are all in a game of chess and we don’t want to be a sacrificial pawn.”

Mr Edwards has a flock of around 100 sheep at his 50-acre Yarnscombe farm, as well as a suckler herd of 30 pedigree ruby red Devons.

Originally from South Wales, the chartered accountant and financial advisor began his North Devon career in Bideford and built his practice for 30 years before selling to Haines Watts, which retained him as a senior partner.

He could not resist buying the Yarnscombe farm and said he had been ‘born afflicted with a compulsion to farm’.

He said he was a little reassured by Michael Gove’s confirmation of ongoing subsidy support in the short term, but said he felt when Britain withdrew it would leave a hole in the EU budget and European farmers would see their support reduce.

He added: “Even if we can persuade the UK Government to match levels of European farm support, our support is bound to reduce significantly.”

But he said he believed that by offering a deal of £40billion, the Government had astutely shifted the dynamic of the negotiations, which would pressurise the EU negotiators to reach an agreement that would not jeopardise that cash.

He said: “What we need fundamentally is a Government concluding negotiations and deals with their eyes wide open and their brains in gear.”