Liberal Democrats urge PM to protect UK farmers in US trade deal talks

A combine harvester in a field Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

Boris Johnson must use talks with President Donald Trump this week to protect British farmers and consumers in any post-Brexit trade deal with the US, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Party leader Jo Swinson is calling on the Prime Minister to make sure discussions on the sidelines of a Nato summit in London make clear the UK will maintain its food standards.

Ms Swinson claims that leaked documents from UK-US trade talks show American officials are pushing for Britain to allow greater use of chemicals in food production.

This would include chlorine-washing chicken and growth hormones in beef cattle, according to the Lib Dems.

The party also insists that Brexit would trigger loss of EU financial support for farmers, tariffs for the 80% of UK agricultural products that are traded with the EU and labour shortages due to the end of free movement.

Ms Swinson said: “Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans threaten to put our farmers out of business, through crippling tariffs for exports to the EU and labour shortages that would leave food rotting in the fields.

“To make matters worse, Johnson’s desperation for a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump means UK farmers risk being undercut by low-standard imports from the US.

“Boris Johnson must give a guarantee that our farmers and world-leading food standards will not be sacrificed on the altar of a Trump trade deal.

“Only the Liberal Democrats have a plan to stop Brexit so we can build a brighter future for British farmers and consumers.

“We will protect the vital supply chains that we rely on to put fresh food on the table, and uphold the high standards in food production that are the pride of our farming sector.”