Poll reveals strong majority prioritise protecting farmers over new trade deals

Over six in ten people want protecting British farmers to take priority over new trade deals, a new poll by pro-internationalist group Best for Britain has found.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 7:35 am
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For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only EDITORIAL USE ONLY Handout photo issued by the BBC of Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday November 27, 2016. Thornberry has said it is "quite difficult" to get past allegations of brutality made against Fidel Castro after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised the revolutionary leader for his "heroism". See PA story POLITICS Castro. Photo credit should read: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.

61% said the government should prioritise protecting British farmers, compared to just 20% who said that agreeing new trade deals was more important, and 19% said they didn’t know.

The findings are based on a nationally representative poll of more than 1,500 adults taken by Opinium for Best for Britain

Support for farmers is found among a majority of both Leavers and Remainers, voters of all parties, across all age groups and in all nations and regions of the UK, with the strongest support in the South West of England.

As negotiations are underway between the Government and Australia on the terms of a new trade deal, concerns have been raised that British farmers would struggle to compete with Australia’s farming industrial complex which could undercut British farmers due their size and lower, food and animal welfare standards.

These issues have split the Government with frontbench ministers at war over the impact a tariff free trade deal could have on the environment, food standards and the welfare of British farmers.

The cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission established by Best for Britain has heard evidence from small businesses this week on the impact of Brexit. Its next session will be examining how leaving the bloc has affected veterinary issues including animal farming. Should any trade deal with Australia be announced, the Commission is expected to make an urgent call for evidence as part of its examination of the deal and potential impact on the UK.

Naomi Smith, Chief Executive of Best for Britain said: “Our polling shows that Britain backs our farmers and that we don’t want to see them sold out like our fishermen were, just so the Prime Minister has something to put in his tragically bare Brexit trophy cabinet.

“Make no mistake, the government’s urgency to get this deal over the line at any cost is purely political. Any trade deal agreed with Australia must receive proper scrutiny and approval by parliament.”

Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Emily Thornberry MP said: “The government needs to stop and reflect on the overwhelming message the British public is sending them. As a country, we do not want to see our farming communities sold out for the sake of a quick trade deal, and our standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection undermined.

“We want trade deals that create jobs, support our farmers and uphold our standards, not bad deals like this one which do the exact opposite.”

Conservative MP Roger Gale, who sits on the cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission, said:“It is vital that in our eagerness to strike trade agreements we do not sacrifice animal welfare, British farmers’ livelihoods or our food standards.

“Allowing the importing of products derived from conditions and hormone treatments that we would not permit in the UK is not acceptable. Indeed, one of the much-vaunted advantages of leaving the European Union was that we would be able to impose our own high standards upon the goods that we allow into the country.

“We have to honour that undertaking given to the British people by the Prime Minister, The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and others.”