Yorkshire can sell lamb and Wensleydale cheese to discerning Americans after US trade deal, says Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill
Yorkshire will be able to sell Yorkshire lamb and Wensleydale cheese to "discerning customers" in America if a US-UK trade deal is agreed, according to one of the region's Conservative MPs.
Whitby and Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill said UK law would protect the region's producers from being undercut by any lowering of food standards should a post-Brexit trade deal be struck with Washington.
It comes amid reports that the Government has abandoned hopes of reaching a US-UK trade deal ahead of this autumn’s American presidential election.
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Mr Goodwill was among the Conservative MPs who voted down an amendment to the Trade Bill which would have given Parliament a "yes/no vote" on the negotiating objectives and the final draft agreement with the US.
His fellow Tory, York Outer's Julian Sturdy, backed the amendment and said any lowering of animal welfare and food standards in a trade deal with the US would have a huge impact in Yorkshire because of its producers' high standards.
Mr Goodwill said UK law would already offer protections against the food quality concerns many people held when they were automatically transferred into UK law from EU legislation at the end of the transition period.
He said the Trade Bill amendment, which would have given Parliament a definitive say on post-Brexit trade deals, would only have stymied progress if other negotiating partners thought an agreement with the Government could then be unpicked by MPs.
And the former Minister, who still works as a farmer, said he did not believe supermarkets would sell lower quality products even if they could be sold in the UK.
He told The Yorkshire Post: "Does anyone seriously consider Waitrose or M&S or Asda would be selling lower quality products?"
Waitrose and Aldi have both recently vowed to never sell chlorinated chicken or hormone-injected beef.
The Co-op supermarket chain previously said it was the first retailer to switch all of its fresh meat products to 100 per cent British produced in 2017, and Morrisons has also committed to sell 100 per cent fresh British own-brand meat, milk and eggs in its stores.
A spokesman for Tesco previously said its position over the issue had not changed since last September when CEO Dave Lewis ruled out the supermarket giant selling chlorine-washed chicken.
And Mr Goodwill said: "America is a very large importer of lamb, I look forward to selling them Yorkshire lamb, Wensleydale cheese, or the high-tariff spirits we produce if we can get a free trade deal, because there are discerning customers in the US who would be delighted they can enjoy some of our products."
The Financial Times reported today that the UK government has abandoned hopes of clinching a US free trade deal ahead of the presidential election, with officials blaming the coronavirus outbreak for slow progress.
“Is it going to happen this year? Basically, no,” said one official quoted by the FT. Another was quoted as saying: “We don’t want to be bounced into a deal.”
Trade minister Liz Truss said last month that Britain had no deadline to strike a trade deal with the United States and she criticised the US administration for talking “a good game” on free trade while restricting import access.