News / Good Trade Campaign

Tensions at the heart of Government over food and environment standards after Brexit exposed

A leaked government briefing has exposed tensions at the heart of government towards protecting the UK’s food and environmental standards after Brexit.

Photo credit: Sustain

Photo credit: Sustain

Unearthed, Greenpeace’s journalism project, has obtained a paper prepared for Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers warning that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will come under “significant pressure” from the Department for International Trade (DIT) to weaken the UK’s food and environmental standards to secure a trade deal with the United States. The report’s authors urge the Theresa Villiers and Defra to resist these efforts.

The internal document states that DIT will push Defra to “accommodate” American requests to lower the UK’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards post-Brexit. It also concedes that relaxing SPS standards in the UK in order to secure a US trade deal could damage public health. It reads:

“Weakening our SPS regime to accommodate one trade partner could irreparably damage our ability to maintain UK animal, plant and public health, and reduce trust in our exports.”

Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain, commented:

“In public the government assures us that our food and environmental standards will be maintained after Brexit, but in private they are preparing to sacrifice standards to secure a trade deal with the US. We suspect the Government is going to drop the trade bill in the Queen’s Speech next week – that at least might have given us some parliamentary oversight over this future trade deals. If government thinks UK consumers will simply accept low standard, low animal welfare products in exchange for trade, they are in for a big surprise.”

Sustain members Trade Justice Movement have written a piece about the implications of the trade bill being dropped. You can read that here.

Published 8 Oct 2019

Good Trade Campaign: Campaigning for good trade that benefits people and the planet at home and overseas.

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