In reply to an ad van demanding Pendle farmers get a say on post-Brexit trade deals, Andrew Stephenson MP has insisted that many local farmers are actually looking forward to exiting the Common Agricultural Policy.
The MP for Pendle, where 63.2% of constituents voted to leave the EU, also reaffirmed his commitment to respecting the leave vote despite pressure from campaigning organisation 38 Degrees, who sent out the ad van to call on MPs to support amendment NC6 to the Trade Bill to give parliament the chance to scrutinise future changes to trade deals post-Brexit.
Under current laws, the government is able to implement trade deals with no public scrutiny, and with post-Brexit trade deals likely to be some of the most important in decades, 38 Degrees are campaigning to allow MPs more say in what is best for constituents, with Pendle farmers potentially facing the prospect of being undercut by poorer quality produce allowed into the UK market because of weaker regulations.
“Not a single Pendle resident has contacted me about NC6 of the Trade Bill, however I am aware that the left-wing pressure group 38 degrees are trying to gain support for this proposal," said Andrew Stephenson MP. "Many local farmers I speak to welcome the fact that after Brexit, when we will exit the Common Agricultural Policy, we will be able to develop our own British agricultural policy that better reflects the different regions of the UK.
"The future shape of British agricultural policy is of far greater concern to them than the trade bill," he added.
Keen to ensure that the government can not more easily negotiate away regulations such as high food standards in trade deals and allow "hormone-injected beef or chlorinated chicken" into the UK market, Maggie Chao, Campaigns Manager at 38 Degrees, said: “Trade is too important to be done in secret.
"Good trade deals can boost the economy, create jobs, and improve opportunities for all of us, but when trade deals are done badly, it can be a disaster," she added. "It could mean lost jobs, lower standards for food, and farmers losing their jobs.
"It’s so important that MPs and the public have a say on future trade deals," Maggie continued, with 517 people in Pendle having signed 38 Degrees' petition. "The government's new law would allow them to change laws to implement trade deals in secret after Brexit.
"If enough MPs support the amendment and demand a say, the government will have to back down and change the law."
You can sign the petition by following this link: https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/2897