Liz Truss has been told to step up post-Brexit protection for UK farmers or face a ‘brick wall’ of Tory rebellions.
International Trade Secretary has been warned to expect another revolt from Tory MPs unless she guarantees ‘in law’ not to sell UK world-class food production standards in a trade agreement with the United States.
The warning comes despite Ms Truss unveiling a commission last week to advise on upcoming trade deals.
It also follows repeated promises by the Minister, a free trader, that she would never let UK farmers down by allowing ‘dangerous’ and cheaper foods made in the United States – such as hormone-fed beef or beef. chlorinated chicken – to strike a lucrative business deal. with Washington.
Liz Truss (pictured in 2019) has been told to step up post-Brexit protection for UK farmers or face a ‘brick wall’ of Tory rebellions
But conservative rebels, who staged a Commons revolt in May, are demanding more concessions – including strengthening the “weak” trade and agricultural advisory commission – as a price to stave off more rebellions this fall.
Critics have already complained that the advisory body will expire in six months, and lamented what they see as a lack of representation of “animal welfare” among its members.
In the Lords last week, John Randall, a Conservative peer, warned that without offering more, the government would be “like a car heading for a brick wall.” The former deputy chief government whip said the composition of the trade commission “leaves a lot of people wary”.
His remarks come as the government fears the Lords will insist next month on inserting new protections for quality British food into the Farm Bill – opening up the prospect of yet another revolt by the Tories in the Commons, supported by the Labor Party.
And yesterday, his views were echoed by Tory MP Neil Parish, who led the previous Commons revolt when 18 of the party’s MPs challenged the government to vote for specific protections in the substandard import law.
Mr Parish, chairman of the powerful Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said the committee’s lifespan “will clearly need to be extended beyond six months.”
The warning comes despite Ms Truss (pictured arriving at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to attend the first in-person cabinet meeting since the coronavirus lockdown) unveiled a commission last week to advise on trade deals to come up
He added: “The commission needs teeth, probably putting it on a statutory basis, to give people confidence that its work cannot be ignored after its report. “
Mr. Parish, who had previously said he didn’t know how much he trusted Ms. Truss, appeared to give him another look.
He said: “Having recently met the Prime Minister, I know he is really passionate about supporting our agricultural sector, but I am not sure that everyone in government is necessarily on the same page. “
Activists fighting to save British agriculture have stepped up in the Mail on Sunday’s Save Our Family Farms campaign, which aims to keep controversial American food products off supermarket shelves.
This newspaper also revealed in June how Mr Johnson canceled the Secretary of International Trade for insisting that unsafe American food would be kept out of the UK by imposing prohibitive tariffs on them once the country left the market. unique EU at the end of the year.
Last night, a source close to Ms Truss sought to allay fears by stressing that she ‘is not going to work every day trying to undermine agriculture and UK standards’, adding:’ She wants to make deals that benefit industry, consumers and the whole of the UK. The commission reflects this desire.
We want expert advice and put agriculture and farming at the heart of UK trade policy. But last night, the Greener UK coalition of 13 major environmental groups called its commission “powerless”.
Spokesman Patrick Killoran said, “It’s hard not to conclude that the only people the government is trying to please are the US trade negotiators.”
Labor spokesperson for rural affairs Luke Pollard said: “We need more than a new quango – we need our food and agriculture standards high in law so that farmers cannot be compromised by trade agreements. “