Post-Brexit trade deal with US will lead to ‘huge decline in food safety,’ ex-environment minister says

Posted On: 
5th November 2018

A post-Brexit trade deal with the US will lead to a “huge decline” in food safety in Britain, a former environment minister has warned.

Cabinet ministers have clashed in the past over post-Brexit US chicken imports
Credit: 
PA Images

Lord Deben, who served as a minister under John Major, said the British public would not tolerate the lower food and animal welfare standards that could be included in a transatlantic trade agreement.

He told the Guardian: “We wouldn’t treat our animals as badly as they do there… I don’t think the British people would put up with it.”

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The ex-Tory MP, who now chairs the Climate Change Committee, said the US would insist on agricultural products being part of any deal.

“I know this – I’ve negotiated with them, for the whole of the EU… You have four times as much food-borne disease in the US,” he warned.

The intervention comes on the back of a long-standing debate over whether a new trade pact with the US could lead to lower food standards.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has insisted that Britain’s high standards will be maintained, while International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is said to be more willing to compromise.

A government spokesman said: “We have been absolutely clear that we will not water down our high food safety in the pursuit of any future trade agreements.

“As we leave the EU, we are committed to securing the best deal for the food, fishery and farming sectors.

“While it is vital that we explore new trading opportunities, these should not mean a dilution of the standards for which British food is world renowned.”