Fair trade, not free-for-all trade
By Mark Wooding
Make no mistake we are not trying to reopen the Brexit debate. The United Kingdom has now left the European Union.
That will present both opportunities and challenges. The opportunity is for the Government to make good on promises to boost United Kingdom exports. The challenge is to do so without compromising United Kingdom standards in manufacturing and food quality. It will be a hollow victory indeed if a 'more global Britain' is also a less safe and a less healthy one.
The world, looking in on the UK, knows we are desperate to strike trade deals. Partly to offset any losses as a result of leaving the European Union, but largely for the Conservative Government to save face and deliver their 'oven ready' trade agreements. That desperation on our nation's part will lead other countries to strike hard bargains. And those countries with the largest economies, such as the USA and China, will strike the hardest bargains of all.
America Wants Us to Accept Lower Standards
The Americans have already put their cards on the table. They want lower standards on food production - at the moment they can't sell us their hormone treated beef and chlorine washed chicken - so they are planning to force us to accept these as part of a trade deal. You may say "well I won't buy them" but you won't know if you are eating out or buying ready made meals where the products in them came from. You may not even know in your supermarket if the Americans also insist that there is no labelling for country of origin.
We Can't Believe the Conservatives
The Conservative Government say they are committed to maintaining food standards, but when given an opportunity by one of their own MPs, Neil Parish, to write standards into law they forced their MPs to vote against it. So it's a little hard to believe they will be true to their words.
You don't need to listen to the Liberal Democrats on this. Listen instead to the National Farmers Union (NFU). So worried are they that these reduced standards will gut the British farming sector they have launched an online petition that has received the support of over a million people.
This is what Minette Batters, NFU President, had to say in February…
"To sign up to a trade deal which results in opening our ports,
shelves and fridges to food which would be illegal to produce
here would not only be morally bankrupt, it would be the work of the insane."
We have to agree.
An unequal and unbalanced trade deal with the USA will leave all of us, our families, children and friends, with lower and unhealthier food standards. It will also prove catastrophic for our farmers and the communities that rely on farming.
Liberal Democrats Support Farmers
Farmers do so much more for us than put food on our table. They play an important role in managing our countryside. Without a vibrant and successful farming community much of the Devon landscape we are so proud of would not exist. Hedgerows would be overgrown or dilapidated, fields would run wild, streams and rivers would be blocked.
Farms are a key area of employment for many people in Central Devon, and bring £ billions into the local economy. Without them Devon would be a poorer and very different place.
And it won't just be farms and food. Already the Americans are indicating they want relaxation on road traffic standards. Their cars are less safe for cyclists and pedestrians involved in an accident than those made in the UK.
Fair Trade NOT Free-For-All Trade
So we urge the Conservative Government to rethink. Do not let a round of trade negotiations result in reduced standards and lower safety for UK citizens. Do not let competition from cheaper, lower standard manufacturers and farms kill off our manufacturing industry and farming sector.
Please Support Farmers
If you would like to support the NFU for high standards in agricultural production please sign their petition at:
And why not write to your MP and express your concerns about striking a fair trade deal not just one that is convenient for the Tories.
Tiverton & Honiton - Neil Parish email@example.com
East Devon - Simon Jupp firstname.lastname@example.org
Central Devon - Mel Stride email@example.com
Torridge and West Devon - Geoffrey Cox firstname.lastname@example.org
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