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320 Tory MPs Reject Chance to ‘Take Back Control’ of Food Trade Deals

Amendments to the Trade Bill designed to enshrine food standards and secure Parliamentary veto are rejected

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Jacob Rees-Mogg sit in the House of Commons
Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, and Jacob Rees-Mogg in the House of Commons last year
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Parliament will not automatically have oversight on trade deals

320 Tory MPs voted down an amendment to the Trade Bill currently passing through the House of Commons last night. The amendment, known as Clause 4, would have guaranteed Parliamentary oversight of any trade deals signed between the U.K. and other nations after Brexit. Also voted down was Clause 11, which sought to “set a requirement for imported agricultural goods to meet animal health and welfare, environmental, plant health, food safety and other standards which are at least as high as those which apply to UK produced agricultural goods.”

It would have effectively barred U.S.-produced meat like chlorinated chicken, which is a problem not because of chlorine but because of the working and animal welfare conditions that necessitate its use, from coming into the U.K. It extends the government’s rowing back on food standards pledges that it had previously promised to guarantee, despite the setting up of a commission to scrutinise them earlier this month.

The government’s line against these amendments, particularly Clause 11, is that consumers hold the power — citing U.K. supermarkets pledging not to stock U.S. meat. But whether it’s a McDonald’s cheeseburger or raw chicken, the impact on the end consumer is never as significant as the impact on the animals and workers who produce the product, and supermarkets refusing to stock whole cuts of meat will not prevent its use in ready meals and food production factories for schools, care homes, and other institutions.

The Trade Bill is yet to be signed into law.

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