This is the response from our MP who asked him about the proposed US trade deal, the reduction in our food standards, and the likelihood of a no deal Brexit next year. A boilerplate response rehearsing the standard party line … mostly vacuous… I have highlighted an important passage. Let’s keep an eye on that.

 

From: “MAYHEW, Jerome” <jerome.mayhew.mp@parliament.uk>
Date: 15 June 2020
Subject: From the office of Jerome Mayhew MP

 

Dear xxxxxx,

 

Thank you for your email regarding the transition extension and food standards, and I apologise for the delay in responding.

 

Having received ongoing briefings from our negotiating team I am acutely aware that it is not a lack of time that is the key sticking point in negotiation s with the EU, but a lack of convergence between the two positions.  Deadlines promote shifts in negotiating positions and I remain hopeful that both sides will be able to come together over the coming weeks.  However, whilst the Government and I are committed to agreeing a deal by December 2020, extending the transition period, in the absence of convergence of negotiation positions in the next few weeks, would simply prolong the failure to agree, lengthen the period of business uncertainty, leave the United Kingdom liable to pay more into the EU in the future whilst keeping us bound to evolving EU laws at a time when we need to control our own affairs, not least our ability to exert effective control at our borders. We all saw during the 2017-2019 Parliament the huge damage repeated delay did to people’s faith in our democratic institutions and I am determined to ensure that such a breach of trust does not happen again four and a half years after the country vote to leave the EU.

 

The Director-General of the CBI has recently stated that the organisation now opposes any extension to the implementation period beyond December 2020; arguing businesses have the “resilience to be able to plan for a ‘no deal’ Brexit,” and they have “no interest in delaying”.

 

I am confident that we can reach a satisfactory conclusion, but I remain committed to the timeline that was set out in the manifesto that I was elected on.

 

Turning the Trade Deal with the United States, this could benefit all four nations of the UK and almost every sector. TModelling of a possible free trade agreement demonstrates that the every part of the UK agricultural sector would be net beneficiaries of a FTA, in every region.  Moreover, the 30,000 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises who export to the US from all parts of the UK would benefit from the cutting of tariffs, trade barriers and red tape. I used to run an SME that grew a US subsidiary and so know first-hand how useful it would be to free up barriers to trade.

 

On the recent vote on the Agriculture Bill, I voted against the amendments to keep the Bill focused on the core objective of setting out the framework for agriculture, as opposed to bringing in trade regulations to Bill that did not require it.  In essence, the amendments were not related to the intentions of the Bill, but rather to fears about any future Free Trade Agreements (“FTA”), and one with the USA in particular.  The fear is that a FTA with the USA and other countries will allow for food produced with lower animal welfare standards than those allowed in the UK to undercut the UK market.

 

I share these concerns and so have spoken directly with the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss MP, who is leading our negotiation with the USA, as well as with the Minister of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands MP, as well as to the UK’s chief trade negotiator, Falconer Crawford.  In all these conversations I have raised the concern that increased access to the UK market by foreign competition that does not have the additional costs of high husbandry standards may unfairly undermine the UK farming sector.

 

In response, ministers have assured me that there is no intention of reducing the UK’s high animal welfare standards as a result of any trade agreement.  We stand by our manifesto commitment on this.  Our product import and food safety standards are not covered by a FTA and will remain unchanged from their current EU levels, so there will be no change here.  We will not be accepting growth hormone-injected beef products or those made with chlorinated chicken, for example.

 

The farming sector, just like any other sector, benefits from competition, and the consumer benefits most of all.  Whilst access to our market for US producers will increase competition, our access to US markets will more than make up for this, making our dynamic agriculture sector a net winner if it takes up the challenge.  For example, the US is currently closed to UK poultry, beef and lamb exports.  This is the most affluent market in the world.  I have confidence in our agriculture industry’s ability to compete on quality across the world.  The UK has always been a free trade nation and this is something that I believe we should continue in.

 

Yours sincerely,

Jerome Mayhew MP

Member of Parliament for Broadland

House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Email – Jerome.Mayhew.mp@parliament.uk

Website – www.jeromemayhew.org.uk

JEROME MAYHEW MP
JEROME MAYHEW MP
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