A business minister has sparked concerns about pig semen after his comments on post-Brexit border checks within the UK.
Conservative frontbencher Lord Callanan was replying to a question from Labour’s Lord Rooker about how measures in the government’s Brexit legislation would affect pig semen imports, telling the Lords: “I was slightly struggling to understand the relevance of his comments about pig semen.
“I’m happy to confirm for his benefit – I think he asked a question about whether pig semen across the island of Ireland would be affected by clause two – I can confirm pig semen will be subject to the same rules, as will other goods, across the island of Ireland, and only when it moves from Northern Ireland to Great Britain would it be subject to any checks.”
Shadow business minister Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town later said: “I think I have to warn him he’s in trouble with the boss because I think he admitted there would be checks at the border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain on pig semen.
“Now, the boss said no checks, no extra paperwork, so I think he may like to…”
At this point, Lord Callanan shouted “no new checks”, to which Lady Hayter remarked: “No new checks, I’m getting – that’s not actually what the prime minister said at that reception – he said if there’s a piece of a paper send it to me and throw it away. I’m not going to make any comment about semen causing particular problems.”
The debate came as peers continue their examination of controversial Brexit legislation that would enable ministers to break international law.
Peers have already signalled they will seek to strip out the most contentious part of the UK Internal Market Bill, which gives ministers the power to breach the Brexit divorce deal – known as the Withdrawal Agreement – brokered with Brussels last year.
It sets the scene for a showdown between the unelected chamber and Commons, where the Government has a majority, with the prospect of protracted parliamentary “ping pong”, where legislation is passed between the two Houses.