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SNP-Tory spats over future powers will not benefit Scottish farmers or the economy

Rows between the SNP and Tories over where power lies post-Brexit will not benefit Scottish farmers or the economy, which relies on intra-UK trade, says North East Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles.

Recently, UK Government Ministers and MPs voted against an amendment in the UK Parliament to maintain food hygiene and animal welfare standards after Brexit.

 

This happened despite numerous promises from Ministers that there would be ’no compromise’ on food standards and agricultural welfare protections in the framework for post-Brexit trade negotiations.

 

That means it will now be far more difficult to keep out low-quality products from abroad when we come to negotiating trade deals with countries outside the EU.

 

It doesn’t matter one jot what the current set of Ministers have promised, if it isn’t in legislation then there is nothing to stop future UK Governments from opening the flood gates.

 

Worse

 

What makes matters worse is this plays straight into the hands of those who want to create unnecessary division within the UK internal market, making it harder to maintain a common framework for food standards across the four nations of the UK.

 

Agricultural regulation is rightly devolved to the administrations in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.

 

This allows each of the devolved nations to promote and develop their own agricultural policies that benefit the unique strengths of each country.

 

New powers devolved through Brexit will also allow Scottish Government Ministers to set our own policy on food labelling, energy efficiency and support for farm businesses.

 

Damaging

 

This is potentially damaging as Scottish Ministers have repeatedly threatened to break away from the common standards that allow products to move freely within the UK.

 

If this was allowed to happen, Scottish consumers, producers and farm businesses would be the ones to lose out.

 

The vast majority of our food and drink trade is within the UK, both exports and imports.

 

That is not to mention the damage that cheap low-quality products from abroad would have to the industry as a whole.

 

Extreme

 

The SNP and Tories represent an extreme view and both are willing to stoke division for political gain.

 

It is clear to me that their tit-for-tat will only make matters worse for our communities and our economy.

 

As I have said many time before, we need a bespoke system of support that works to the strengths of our high-quality agricultural sector in Scotland, within a common framework that will allow free movement of goods within the UK.


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