Yesterday, Liz Truss has said British farmers have nothing to fear and an “awful lot to gain” from a free trade deal with Australia.
Today she continued to discuss this subject and also waded into Irish Brexit border issues and the success, or not, of the Sewell report into race disparities.
The Government is hoping to secure an agreement in principle on its first trade deal to be negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU ahead of next month’s G7 summit in Cornwall.
However, ministers face a backlash from UK farmers who fear the zero tariffs, zero quotas deal that the government in Canberra is demanding would see them undercut by Australian rivals.
Today while answering listeners’ questions on LBC Radio, Ms Truss rejected farmers’ pleas to step back from a tariff-free trade deal with Australia – insisting it was “the gateway” to sales across Asia.
Truss also said: “Hormone-injected beef will not be allowed into the UK – full stop.”
In response to the Australian trade issue, Emily Thornberry tweeted: “I’ve written to Liz Truss asking her to come to Parliament this week and face questions about the offer she has made to Australia on agricultural tariffs, and what it means for our farmers. The first proper debate on this deal should not take place only after it has been signed.”
I’ve written to Liz Truss asking her to come to Parliament this week and face questions about the offer she has made to Australia on agricultural tariffs, and what it means for our farmers. The first proper debate on this deal should not take place only after it has been signed. pic.twitter.com/7je7deMUdQ— Emily Thornberry (@EmilyThornberry) May 24, 2021
She also called for “border controls and paperwork” to be scrapped on Irish Sea trade, risking a fresh clash with the EU.
Truss was asked if the government’s aim is to remove all red tape, despite those checks being agreed by Boris Johnson in his trade deal, she replied: “Absolutely, yes.”
It comes as Michel Barnier claims in his new book that Johnson appeared to be unaware that Brexit would cause Irish border problems.
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator said despite the prime minister’s best efforts to move the process forward, he seemed hobbled by some of the basics when it came to the agreement.
The Sewell report concluded that while racism and racial injustice still existed, geography, family influence, socioeconomic background, culture and religion all had a greater impact on life chances.
The commission’s chairman, Dr Tony Sewell, said the report did not deny that racism exists in Britain, but there was no evidence “of actual institutional racism”.
In a statement, the the UN working group of experts on people of African descent said: “In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent.”
Presenter Nick Ferrari also questioned Truss about the report.
He said it “was widely condemned?”
She replied: “There was a lot of support for the Sewell Report.”
Ferrari then asks: “By whom?”
Liz Truss replied she: “I can’t remember,” and couldn’t think of anyone who welcomed the findings…apart from the PM himself.