The Labour Party has pledged to fight any attempt by the Government to rewrite food standards as the UK leaves the EU.
Both the Shadow Trade Secretary, Barry Gardiner, and the Shadow Defra Secretary, Sue Hayman, said resisting trade deals which undermined high UK standards of production would be a priority for the opposition in the coming months and years.
Mr Gardiner had already attempted to commit the Government to maintaining European food standards by tabling several amendments to the Trade Bill, which will allow the UK to replicate EU trade deals, but all of them were rejected.
Now Ms Hayman has said the party will fight any trade deal which threatens those standards ‘tooth and nail’.
“The Government’s vision for the UK as a leading free-trade nation with low tariff barriers does not sit easily with its declared commitment to thriving British food and farming sectors,” she told an NFU event at the Labour conference in Liverpool.
“Combining and delivering these two objectives will be a considerable challenge for a Government which is, and always has been, in favour of more deregulation and which has a blind reliance on the free market to deliver social outcomes.”
At a separate Socialist Environment and Resources Association (SERA) event, Mr Gardiner set out the party’s plan to take on the Government in more detail.
He said: “The Trade Bill has yet to come back to the House of Lords, but when it does, I can assure you this will be part of the strategy we have in the House of Lords to rejuvenate those amendments and to try and make sure the Lords pass them so they come back to the Commons.”
The Shadow Trade Secretary also criticised Ministers for saying they would not reduce food standards but refusing to commit to it in legislation.
“That should be deeply worrying to all of us,” he said.
“It is not enough to say it. If you are going to say it, you need to have an enforcement mechanism in place in statute.”