Scottish Government describes Dr Liam Fox’s stance on a UK-US trade deal as “concerning and confusing”
Dr Liam Fox under pressure following reports the UK is considering lifting ban – introduced by the EU – on importing chemically-washed poultry after Brexit
The Scottish Government has described Dr Liam Fox’s stance on a UK-US trade deal as “concerning and confusing”, after reports the UK Trade Secretary was considering lifting a ban – introduced by the EU – on importing chemically-washed poultry after Brexit.
With Fox under pressure over concerns a trade deal with the US would lead to lower food standards, Scottish Government Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing warned it was “imperative that any trade deal agreed in the wake of the Brexit process does not compromise our values”.
Concerns emerged after Theresa May’s spokesman refused to rule out lifting the ban.
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Fox was forced to reject calls from pro-EU campaign group Open Britain to eat a chlorinated chicken to prove he believed they are safe, saying: “The British media are obsessed with chlorine-washed chickens, a detail of the very end stage of one sector of a potential free trade agreement.”
Ewing’s comments follow a report from the Lords EU Environment Committee which found UK food standards industry had an “overwhelming” reliance on EU workers.
The Lords urged the Government to include high farm welfare standards in any trade agreements negotiated post-Brexit and said there was no reason quality should slip after the UK leaves the bloc.
A spokesperson for Theresa May said: “Our position when it comes to food is that maintaining safety and public confidence in the food we eat is the highest priority and any future trade deal must work for UK farmers, businesses and consumers.”
The comments led Fergus Ewing to call for Scotland to play a greater role in Brexit negotiations.
He said: “The EU-wide food safety and animal health and welfare standards which Scotland and the UK currently adhere to are some of the highest in the world.
“For example, the EU has banned the importation of certain foods which are produced in a particular way, including hormone-treated cattle or chlorine washed poultry. Scotland and the UK proudly boasts a gold standard level of animal welfare, the chicken industry is no exception. The USA at present is some way to catch up on our standards.”
He added: “It is very concerning and confusing that the Trade Secretary is now open to such a deal through which the standards of the food products that we import into this country may be compromised. The UK Government can’t have it both ways.
“The quality of the food we eat is of the utmost importance and we expect a high standard of welfare in our production process. It is imperative that any trade deal agreed in the wake of the Brexit process does not compromise our values in this area.
“Regulations on animal and plant health and food safety remain essential for our reputation and to access EU markets, and Scottish producers and manufactures need confidence that these rules will be maintained in order to enable them to remain competitive.”
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