Last night’s vote in the House of Commons saw MPs reject an amendment to the Agriculture Bill which was designed to ensure that post-Brexit food imports would meet domestic legal standards from 1 January 2021 – including animal welfare and food safety rules.
Farming Minister Victoria Prentis told the House of Commons that the Government was ‘absolutely committed to high standards’ and that food quality would be safeguarded by existing laws. The Government has previously stated that EU rules on banning chlorine-washed chicken would be written into UK law automatically when the transition period ends on 31 December.
But the further changes to the Agriculture Bill – which were deemed necessary by peers in order to protect the UK market from foreign imports of chlorinated, hormone-fattened meat – have now been rebuffed by 332 votes to 279 by MPs, giving the Government-backed rejection a majority of 53.
Give MPs who voted against these changes a chance to rethink
Reacting on behalf of the Soil Association (SA), Gareth Morgan, head of farming and land use policy, SA, says: “We are very disappointed the House of Commons has rejected key amendments on import standards, climate change and pesticides in the Agriculture Bill, that has been proposed by the House of Lords.
“Putting these protections into law is vital to protect us against trade deals that could lower food production standards, threaten our environmental and climate change commitments, and undercut British farmers.
“We must go further to uphold the UK’s high standards for food and farming. We urge the House of Lords to hold their ground and send the amendments back to the Commons again to give MPs who voted against these changes a chance to rethink.”
On IGTV chef Jamie Oliver reacted to the outcome: “I’m gutted. I am sad. I’m not surprised that we lost. It’s all about, in my opinion, rushing a UK-US trade deal. I want to get a trade deal done but not at any cost, and bad trade deals equal bad public health. The people that suffer the most are always the poorest. This is something I care about. Over a million of you voted … Nearly 50,000 of you wrote letters to your MPs. It was noted in parliament … but yet they still voted it down. I think the ministers have let you down. So we need to just take a beat, take a breath, consolidate our thoughts and see what happens next. Don’t lose hope. You win some, you lose some [but] this happens to be really, really important for our farmers, our land, our kids’ health.”