Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Kent farmer David Catt kicked off GB News by Jacob Rees-Mogg after saying Brexit had been a disaster

A farmer who was invited to “celebrate” the fourth anniversary of Brexit on TV channel GB News was cut off during an interview after insisting it had been a disaster for British agriculture.

David Catt, from Boughton Monchelsea near Maidstone, was being interviewed by the programme’s host and MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Brexiteer.

Farmer David Catt is a staunch remainer
Farmer David Catt is a staunch remainer

In a heated four-minute discussion, Mr Rees-Mogg tried repeatedly to get Mr Catt to concede that Brexit had brought benefits to farming, but Mr Catt was having none of it.

The farmer said: “We are in a situation in this country at the moment where agriculture and farming is falling off a cliff.”

He added that in Kent in particular, fruit farmers were grubbing up their orchards “at a faster rate than ever before” because they could no longer get seasonal labour from the EU to pick the fruit.

He said: “Brexit hasn’t benefitted British agriculture whatsoever.

“It’s destroyed our ability to export to the EU, because of red tape.”

Mr Rees-Mogg said there was nothing to stop him from still selling to the EU, but Mr Catt said the paperwork involved had made it “financially prohibitive”.

After four minutes, Mr Rees-Mogg gave up trying to win over the farmer and disconnected the Zoom link, saying: “Well, thank you very much, David. It’s good of you to join me.”

Speaking to KentOnline, Mr Catt, who carried out his interview with Mr Rees-Mogg via a Zoom link on his mobile phone from his kitchen, said: “They did know what I was going to say because I had a phone conversation with his producer that afternoon and I pulled no punches then.”

Mr Catt had also been interviewed on GB News last summer where he had enjoyed an equally heated argument over Brexit with Arlene Foster, the former first minister of Northern Ireland.

He said: “I think Jacob Rees-Mogg thought he would be able to walk all over me. He couldn’t and in the end, when he was losing, he shut me down.

“It’s a shame because there were a few more points I would have liked to get in, and looking back, perhaps I didn't come on hard enough!”

Farmer David Catt from Boughton Monchelsea
Farmer David Catt from Boughton Monchelsea

Describing himself as “very much a Remainer”, he said: “They promised Brexit would end red tape. But now we have nothing but red tape.”

Despite that, he was proud that the family business had grown every year since its foundation – including post-Brexit. He said: “There were only three months when our takings for the month were below what they had been that month in the previous year and they were the three months after the referendum result.”

However, he has not yet felt the full effect of Brexit. He said: “The government was supposed to bring in checks on food imports.

“Some started this week, but on fruit and vegetables, they keep deferring the date. They will probably defer it until after the election, because when it does come in it's going to cause chaos.”

He predicted there would be winter shortages of tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, peppers and cucumbers, once the checks came in.

Mr Catt started farming more than 50 years ago, when he and his brother Michael joined the business started by their father, also called David Catt.

Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Catt on GB News
Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Catt on GB News

After three years at Hadlow College, and work experience on two other farms, Mr Catt started by growing onions but found there was little market locally.

He said: “I had to get in my Transit and get out on the road to sell them – and that was the start of wholesale side to our business.”

Now the firm sells all the crops from their own 35 acres at East Hall Farm, which include chard, beetroot, leaks, parsley, sage and coriander, and also a full range of crops from other local growers and, he says, he specialises in “local produce”.

However, in winter when British crops are not available, he imports produce from Holland, Spain, Portugal, France and Poland.

He sells into independent retailers – never supermarkets which he says have destroyed the village shop and “ruined a way of life” – as well as 300 pubs and restaurants.

Mr Catt has now been joined in the business by his son James and nephew Phillip.

When he was losing, he shut me down

They employ between 30 and 40 staff and have just started a 10-acre vineyard.

He explained grapes could be mechanically harvested and so would not need the seasonal labour that he has found to be in such short supply since Brexit.

He described leaving the EU as “insanity” but suggested the biggest threat to food supply is now global warming.

He said: “Already here in Britain we have 15 storms since October – that’s a new record.

“We have to find ways to work together globally if we are to avoid shortages.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg MP
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP

His interview has become a social media sensation.

He said: “It’s gone viral – not just here but in France as well.

“I’ve picked up 1,500 Twitter followers in the last 24 hours.”

Now Mr Catt is hoping to be given the chance to take on Nigel Farage.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More