Environment secretary votes against his own proposals to protect post-Brexit food standards

PUBLISHED: 14:18 06 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 March 2020

Boris Johnson MP (right) with George Eustice. Photograph: Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Boris Johnson MP (right) with George Eustice. Photograph: Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

Environment secretary George Eustice has voted against his own proposals to protect food standards in the House of Commons.

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When Eustice was on the backbenches back in 2019 he tabled an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to try to protect the UK's high animal welfare and food hygiene standards by banning the sale of lower standard foods such as chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef.

But now as an environment secretary he failed to back the exact same amendment when it was tabled by the Labour Party in the House of Commons.

The Tory MP was joined by farming minister Victoria Prentis in voting against the proposals, with the government insisting its bill will retain EU legislation for existing protections on food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards.

Nonetheless Eustice's vote against looks like a u-turn, and comes weeks after he was forced to defend Priti Patel's immigration on Question Time, despite previously claiming that the Home Office needed to "get real".


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Labour said that the Tories are now "tying themselves in knots to get a damaging trade deal with Donald Trump".

"This government is in chaos," said Luke Pollard MP, Labour's shadow environment secretary.

"Labour used the exact same text put forward by the Secretary of State when he was a backbencher, that would have protected our food standards. Now he and the Tories have voted it down.

"The Conservatives are tying themselves in knots to get a damaging trade deal with Donald Trump, whatever the cost.

"If this amendment was good enough for the environment secretary when he wrote it, why does he now oppose it?"

In an interview last month Eustice refused to rule out chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef appearing on shelves in the UK after a Trump trade deal.

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