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Government officials fear they will come under strong pressure from Trade Secretary Liz Truss to weaken the UK’s food and environmental standards so she can get a trade deal with the United States.
A leaked briefing prepared for Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers warns that her ministry will come under “significant pressure” from the Department for International Trade (DIT) The internal document states that DIT will push the to “accommodate” American requests to lower the UK’s sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) post-Brexit.
The leaked paper has been published by the campaign organisation Unearther.Greenpeace https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/10/07/brexit-liz-truss-theresa-villiers-defra/
It says: “Weakening our SPS regime to accommodate one trade partner could irreparably damage our ability to maintain UK animal, plant and public health, and reduce trust in our exports,” it reads. It says giving the American what they want post Brexit would severely hamper Britain’s ability to negotiate an agreement with the EU and could lead to the EU imposing a hard border in Ireland to protect the single market.
Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary Barry Gardiner told Unearthed: “That trade agreements with the USA and Australia risk opening the floodgates to food imports produced to much lower standards.
“Their rules specify ‘acceptable levels’ of maggots in orange juice, rat droppings in ginger and hormone levels in beef. The right level should be zero.
“Undercutting our farmers and food manufacturers like this would drive many of our producers out of business and put jobs at risk.”
At a Tory conference fringe event hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs Truss
Speaking at the conference earlier this week, however, Truss said she and her Defra colleague were united in their enthusiasm for a US deal. “Theresa Villiers, for example, the Defra Secretary, is a strong free trade supporter.”
Asked whether deals could lead to a race to the bottom on environmental standards, Truss said she wanted to take “a free-market approach”.
No-one who has been following British politics over the last few years can deny that public discourse around leaving the EU has been dominated by immigration. From the start of the process until today, the influx of European nationals into this country was front on centre of political arguments from all sides.
As a Labour activist, I only have to hear the words ‘General Election’ to start dusting off my waterproof and comfy trainers and mentally prepare to leaflet and door-knock for the foreseeable future. Growing up in the North-East, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits a Labour government can bring.
All too often we are met with the cries of a ‘capitalist plot’ when defending the European Union to our Labour colleagues, as 'neocon' and 'neoliberal' are added in for effect. Indeed, with its focuses on intergovernmental trade it could be seen as 'capitalist' but to label it as some sort of capitalist conspiracy is dangerous at best.
Parliament yesterday voted by 308-304 votes to force Theresa May to provide a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal. Brussels chiefs have today said that the EU will not renegotiate a deal with the Prime Minister if it is rejected by Parliament.
It is now up to the Prime Minister to listen to Parliament and to agree a deal with the European Union that limits the damage Brexit will do.
Seb Dance MEP has been elected Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, after the election of Richard Corbett MEP as Leader of EPLP last month.
Richard Corbett MEP has won the election, held amongst Labour Members of the European Parliament, for the position of leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party. You can read more here.
Ever since the Referendum of June 2016, the Brexit ship has been taking on water. Everybody knows the key pledge – a Brexit government would shift £350m a week, supposedly saved from membership costs, into the NHS every year, was an invention. The prospect of throwing out non-British workers so that Brits could take their jobs turned out to be too dangerous for the economy and strongly resisted by employers. And the promise that the UK would get rid of the European Court’s right to rule over the laws we had earlier agreed to “over our laws” and ban our compliance with “their” laws turned out to be a misunderstanding of our legal situation.
Ruairi Quinn, Treasurer of the Party of European Socialists and former leader of the Irish Labour Party writes for the Labour Movement for Europe on the effect of Brexit on the relationships between Ireland and Northern Ireland.