Tuesday 15 June 2021 / 4:39 PM Emily Thornberry / International Trade / Luke Pollard

Australian government reveals the true scale of Tory sell-out

The Labour Party has accused the government of failing Britain’s farmers in the same way it has the British fishing industry, after the Australian government published full details of the agreement reached on their future agricultural exports to the UK.

Downing Street’s announcement this morning contained a single sentence on the central issue of agricultural tariffs: “British farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards.”

However, the Australian government has now revealed the true scale of its deal with the UK, which will – in practical terms – grant its agricultural corporations immediate and unlimited tariff-free access to the UK beef and lamb market, with no protection for British farmers:

  • Australia would be able to increase its beef exports to the UK by more than sixty times their 2020 levels in the first year of the deal before any tariffs would kick in;
  • They would be able to export four times more beef to the UK in the first year of the deal than they did to the whole of Europe in 2020 before any tariffs would kick in; and
  • The UK would leap from 27th to 6th place in the global ranking of Australia’s biggest beef export markets if they use their full quota in the first year.

Emily Thornberry MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, said:

“With this deal, and the precedent it sets for New Zealand, America, Canada and Brazil, the government will send thousands of farmers to the wall, undermine our standards of animal welfare and environmental protection, and threaten the conservation of our countryside.

“Instead of using the opportunity of Britain’s first post-Brexit trade deal to create jobs in every sector, drive our economic recovery, and raise standards around the world, the government has done the opposite with this agreement on agriculture.

“No other country in the world would accept such a terrible deal for its farming industry, and neither should we. Any Tory MP backing this deal today needs to have a hard look in the mirror, and ask how they would reacted if it had been proposed by Brussels instead.”

“What makes this deal all the more indefensible is that, while Australia is getting everything it wanted and more, we are getting next to nothing in return, with a miniscule 0.025% increase in UK growth the most optimistic projection the government can come up with.

Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:

“The Government are screwing over our farmers the same way they screwed over the British fishing industry. To do so with one sentence in a press release, and no answers to the crucial questions it raises, shows a staggering contempt for Britain’s farming communities.”