US Republican Paul Ryan warns the UK ‘must diverge from EU rules or risk trade deal’

Written by Nicholas Mairs on 25 June 2018 in News

Speaker of the House of Representatives is said to have told Liam Fox that Britain must be prepared to "diverge" from EU protected status on native products

Image credit: PA

US Republican politician Paul Ryan has reportedly warned the UK it risks thwarting any trade deal with the US by failing to ditch EU food and drink protections after Brexit.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is said to have told Liam Fox on a visit to the US that Britain must be prepared to "diverge" from EU protected status on native products.

The US makes its own feta, parmesan and champagne and has previously pulled out of a prospective deal with Brussels over attempts to ban the sale of American products.

Michel Barnier meanwhile has insisted the issue is “not negotiable” and Britain must sign up to defending 3,300 protected food and drink products, protected under a system of "geographical indications".

The rules mean countries are unable to brand certain products according to their origin if they are not from there – such as whisky as Scotch if it is not from Scotland.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Dr Fox has written to David Davis warning him not to concede over the issue during negotiations with Brussels.

The paper reports that while he has said the UK must remain “flexible” on the issue to avoid emboldening the European Union to push for further concessions, the Brexit Secretary is keen to press on with the issue before it holds up talks.

It comes months after former US ambassador Charles Ries told Business Insider that it would be "very difficult" for the UK to negotiate with the EU after giving into the US given each side's redlines.

A Government spokesman told the paper: “Leaving the EU gives us a golden opportunity to secure ambitious free-trade deals that are in the mutual interests of the countries involved while supporting farmers and producers to grow and sell more great British food.

“We will ensure consumers continue to have a range of high-quality food products.”

The latest headache comes amid reports that more than 50 Tory MPs are preparing to block any attempt to leave the EU without a deal.

The Independent reports an ex-Cabinet minister warning that a “humble address” would be used after concern that food and medicine shortages and tailbacks at the UK’s borders were possible.

“There are at least 50 Conservative MPs who would be prepared to vote to stop it happening, which would be more than enough to force the government to take notice,” they said.

Dr Fox yesterday told Sky News that the option of no deal remained on the table.

“We've got to be free in the negotiation to say if we don't get the deal we want, there won't be any agreement,” he warned.

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