UK will not import cheap food after Brexit - Gove
Trade barriers in the UK that prevent imports of cheaper food from countries with lower production standards will not be removed after Brexit, newly appointed Defra Secretary Michael Gove has said.
Speaking to The Times at the Royal Three Counties Show in Malvern on Friday, Gove said: “I have absolutely no intention of allowing any of the protections which are currently in place, which ensure that the consumer has high-quality food and that farmers are encouraged to invest in maintaining very high standards, there’s no way that’s going to be undermined.”
A potential cheap food import policy in the UK after Brexit has been a concern for UK farmers. The Conservative Party manifesto for the 2017 general election did not contain a commitment to reduce imports of food from countries that produce below UK standards, something that was pledged in the 2015 campaign.
Gove had also made comments in the EU referendum campaign last year stating that Brexit would allow cheaper food for consumers through imports from new free trade deals.
However, this commitment from the Defra Secretary to only import food of the same standard will also be welcomed by Irish farmers as well as their UK counterparts. Around 50% of the Republic of Ireland’s total beef exports goes to the UK and followed by one third Irish total dairy exports.
“The most important thing is to have the freest possible trade and to maintain access to European markets, but at this stage I don’t want to be prescriptive about how we do that,” Gove told The Times.