MP upbeat on farming trade deal prospects

Despite the Covid-19 emergency, the UK Government remains firmly focused behind-the-scenes on securing game-changing Brexit trade deals.

That was the assurance of Scottish Secretary Alister Jack this week as he explained why he voted against an unsuccessful amendment in the Agriculture Bill aimed at preventing sub-standard food imports.

The Dumfries and Galloway MP, along with five Scottish Conservative colleagues, opposed the move at Westminster last Wednesday on the grounds it could prove an unnecessary distraction during forthcoming trade negotiations.

Mr Jack said: "The fact is we will not compromise on the UK's high animal and food safety standards. They are one of the factors which should help us grow the quality market for our produce around the world.

"Scotland's farmers will benefit from the trade deals we plan to sign which will work for consumers, farmers and other businesses."

Mr Jack added that the UK was working to maintain existing import standards in such areas as environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety, ensuring fair competition for domestic farmers.

He added that proposed trade deals, including with the USA, could open the door to many new opportunities for Scottish agriculture and the wider food industry.

The amendment, seeking to ensure only UK equivalent standard imports, was put forward last Wednesday by Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, but was defeated by 328 votes to 277.