Publised date : 18 Nov 2022

Perthshire North MSP, Mr John Swinney, has again spoken out against the UK Government’s free trade deal with Australia.

Mr Swinney’s comments come following a speech in the House of Commons yesterday (14th November) by George Eustice MP, who held the position of Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between 2020-2022 and was closely involved with negotiations.

Mr Eustice was hugely critical of the deal, stating that the UK “gave away far too much for far too little in return”. He was particularly critical of the decision to grant Australia and New Zealand full access to the UK market to sell beef and sheep whilst the Australia still bans the import of British beef. He also claimed that Liz Truss MP, the Trade Secretary at the time, negatively impacted the UK Government’s negotiating position by attempting to conclude an agreement prior to the G7 summit.

Commenting, Mr Swinney said:

“The comments made by George Eustice MP are simply jaw-dropping and the clearest indication yet of how badly the Tory government has let down Scottish farmers.

“From the moment it was announced, it was obvious that this trade deal would be hugely damaging to Scottish farmers. Indeed, I have spoken first-hand to many farmers across Perthshire who have expressed their worry over how this deal will impact their livelihoods. Despite this, the Tories trumpeted this deal as resounding success and proof positive of the benefits of Brexit.

“It is also just the latest example of the Tories putting their own interests ahead of the country. That the then-Trade Secretary, Liz Truss MP, chose to negotiate a worse deal for UK farmers in order to reach an agreement by a politically-expedient date speaks volumes about the recklessness of the Conservative Party, as well as showing their lack of respect for the Scottish agriculture sector.

“It is now clearer than ever that the UK Government cannot be trusted to protect the interests of Scottish farmers, and that Scottish Conservative MPs and MSPs – who were quick to hail this deal as a huge success - will always put loyalty to their Westminster bosses ahead of standing up for their constituents.”


Farming, Environment, Tax
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