Customs duties

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 20th December 2017.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Labour/Co-operative, Nottingham East 4:15 pm, 20th December 2017

I will give way in a moment. Our justification for leaving the customs union has to be more than simply to keep the Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade in a job. My hon. Friend Angela Smith, who is keen to intervene, took evidence on some of these questions this morning.

I think that the potential United States deal that Mr Baron referred to is being kiboshed as we speak. The US would want an agricultural basis for any trade deal with the UK, but there is a reason why the Americans dip their chicken in chlorine: they have entirely different and lower animal welfare standards than do the UK and the EU. If we were to do an agricultural deal with the US on the basis of those lower standards, it would undercut our farmers, abattoirs and food producers, who would have to chase each other down to the level of the lowest common denominator. It is contradictory to hear the Environment Secretary saying that he does not wish in any way to reduce safety standards or animal welfare standards, and he may well be killing off the idea of a US trade deal with his pronouncements.