I always try to stay quite measured and objective on twitter – but frankly this is bollocks https://twitter.com/TelePolitics/status/1315003608459603969
Firstly, this is a misrepresentation of the amendments. One of them simply requires Parliament to be given full, independent information on the impact of trade deals before they are signed, so MPs can have a say. /2
The second actually gives government flexibility on defining the “equivalency” of standards that imports, under future trade deals only, will have to meet. Its fairly obvious Daniel hasn’t looked at the amendments. /3
He says the amendments would “criminalise” what the US already sells here now. Rubbish, it doesn’t criminalise anything. It requires US food sold in the UK under a future deal to meet the same requirements as UK food. /4
There is no requirement for the US to change their own food standards. Indeed, US beef is already available in the UK, but it is hormone free. They produce it that way so they can sell it here. /5
I am equally sure that many countries in the world (I’m sure because I’ve spoken to farmers there) are quite happy to meet our standards if it means they can access our markets. 6/
What’s more surprising about this piece is that someone who felt so strongly about taking back control and re-asserting Parliamentary sovereignty feels so threatened by MPs having a say on trade deals. 7/
I have pointed out many times why its silly to paint the NFU position as "protectionist". The NFU has supported a liberalisation of trade from an already liberal status quo. 8/
We import food from all over the globe, and its already more affordable than almost anywhere in the world. And we welcome the opportunity to sell more food overseas. 9/
But any further liberalisation has to contribute to improving our competitiveness, not leave us unable to compete because imports don’t face the same high costs of welfare and environment that British farmers face. 10/
That unfairly damages our agriculture sector, and means more food in British canteens, cafes and shops that are produced in ways British politicians and the public won’t allow of their own farmers. /11
We’ve regularly acknowledged this is a tricky issue – there is need to balance safeguards on standards with maintaining secure and affordable food supplies and not damaging farmers in developing countries. /12
This is one of the reasons the Curry amendment is so sensible. It ensures we can have those sorts of conversations and that we fully understand the impact of the trade deals we’re negotiating before signing them. /13
What Daniel seems to be really concerned about is not "free trade", or pioneering a trade policy in the 21st Century that accommodates issues like animal welfare and climate change, but simply whether we can do a deal with the US (at any cost) /14
And we know the US have very straightforward thoughts about what is and is not acceptable as part of that deal. /15
Finally, I won’t bother commenting on the lazy characterisation of the upper ranks of the NFU – it’s a tired old canard. We know what they say about the strength of an argument when people start playing the (wo)man and not the ball…/16
Suffice to say our current President is a tenant farmer on a mixed farm with a 100-cow suckler herd and a handful of pedigree Herefords and some sheep. She won’t like the term, but that seems quite “rank-and-file” to me! /17
One final point – I do wonder how people apparently so fanatical about “free trade” are similarly so comfortable with a no-deal/hard Brexit, erecting trade barriers overnight to an extent unique in recent global history. /end
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