Farming Minister George Eustice has refused to guarantee the devolved regions will be able to veto the entry of hormone-treated beef or chlorinated chicken to the UK after Brexit.
He was pressed on the issue by MPs on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee last week, who asked him several times whether Wales would be in a position to block food imports produced to lower standards during the course of any future trade negotiations.
Though he acknowledged there would need to be a role for the devolved administrations in trade talks, he would not be drawn on the specific question of a veto.
“When it comes to the devolved administrations, there is clearly going to need to be some kind of mechanism to engage with them, not least because after the passing of the EU Withdrawal Bill, these key elements of EU law will become UK domestic law”, Mr Eustice said.
“It will be unlawful to have hormone-treated beef and it will be unlawful to have chlorine-washed chicken, and if we wanted to change this, we would need to repeal that legislation before we would be able to do any trade deals along those terms.
“In such a situation, there will be a role for both Westminster and probably the devolved administrations as well.
“The issue about the way in which devolved administrations will be engaged in trade deals is one which is still being discussed with the Department of International Trade.”
The Minister also defended the Government’s rejection of a Labour amendment to the Trade Bill which would have ensured EU food safety standards were included in any future deals the UK signed.
He told the MPs it was important to ‘face the future rather than cling to the past’.
“To have an amendment which says we want to hang on to this bit or that bit of EU regulation for eternity is the wrong way to go”, he said.
“We have to learn as a country to take responsibility for things ourselves and not always think we need the EU to tell us what to do.
“This is a cultural shift for we as politicians, but also for our civil service.”