Tory trade deals ‘sold farmers down the river,’ says Welsh farming union boss
Farmers have been “sold down the river” by Tory trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, a Welsh farming union boss has said.
Speaking yesterday in Parliament, former Secretary of State for Agriculture George Eustice told MPs that the UK “gave away far too much for far too little in return,” despite starting negotiations “with the strongest possible hand”.
He also said that negotiators were undermined by former Minister Liz Truss demanding that a deal with Australia be struck before the G7 summit in Cornwall in June 2021.
Farmers’ Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts said the deals gave away massive access to UK food markets in exchange for negligible benefits.
“Mr Eustice has confirmed everything the FUW has stated throughout. The positive spin given by Boris Johnson, Ministers and MPs about these deals at the time was complete nonsense.
“We have always known and made clear that these deals sell UK farmers and food security down the river in exchange for virtually nothing.
“The UK gave away massive and ultimately complete access to our markets for beef, lamb and dairy products in exchange for minute benefits, all in order to meet deadlines for politically expedient press releases.”
Mr Eustice also told Parliament that Australian negotiators had been allowed to “shape the terms” of the agreement, and called for the Department for International Trade’s head to be sacked, saying now was “a good opportunity to move on and get a different type of negotiator in place – somebody who understands British interests better”.
Mr Roberts said the deals are recognised around the globe as being incredibly weak and had made a laughing stock of the UK on the international stage.
“MPs who continue to defend these deals no longer have a leg to stand on as the truth has been given to Parliament ‘from the horse’s mouth’,” he said.
Mr Roberts said the new Westminster regime should now ensure that any future deals with other countries and trading blocs take a far more robust approach that protects farmers and food security – not undermining them.
“Our vulnerability to the further undermining our food security has been made clear by Russia’s war on Ukraine, and the UK needs to reset its approach to international trade, as called for in the FUW’s July 2022 five-point plan,” he added.
‘Industry at risk’
The Liberal Democrats have reiterated concerns over the negative impacts the UK’s trade deals with Australia and New Zealand could have on the Welsh agricultural industry.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for International Trade and Wales, Sarah Green MP said: “This Conservative Government has failed Wales by neglecting to carry out detailed assessments of how these trade deals will impact them, as well as other regions and nations in the UK.
“In Wales, a world-class lamb industry is now at risk, as are the communities relying on it.
“The Liberal Democrats are calling on this Conservative government to fully assess the impact new trade agreements will have on the different parts of the UK.
“They must also set out an overarching trade strategy that guarantees a stringent assessment of any trade deal against minimum standards on human rights, environmental standards, labour standards and safety standards.
“This Conservative party cannot continue selling out entire industries for marginal economic gain while silencing the voices of those affected by denying proper parliamentary scrutiny.”
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