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MP votes against controversial Internal Market Bill to protect Cumbria’s farmers and animal welfare, food and environmental standards

September 21, 2020 9:18 AM

Tim Farron at the Penrith Auction MartThis week South Lakes MP Tim Farron voted against Government measures which could lead to the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland being able to undercut Cumbrian farmers.

The Internal Market Bill, which has been heavily criticised for breaking international law, would enforce the lowest common denominator in goods and services across the United Kingdom. This means that farmers in Cumbria would be forced to lower their animal welfare, food or environmental standards if one of the devolved administrations decided to lower theirs.

There are also fears that if this happened against the will of Scottish or Northern Irish farmers, then this could bolster the case for Scottish Independence or Irish Reunification.

Speaking during a debate on the Bill, Tim said: "In South Cumbria, I am 50 miles from the Scottish border. I have no desire to live 50 miles from a foreign border-not in my lifetime, nor in my children's or grandchildren's lifetimes.

"There are both practical and emotional reasons why this Bill is the worst thing to come to this House in the 15 years that I have been a Member of Parliament. Cumbria does not have a more important internal market than our relationship with south-west Scotland.

"It is a porous border, not even recognised by many: people work on one side of the border and live on the other; they go to school on one side and visit their GP on the other. Sheep reared in Cumbria are sold in Scotland. Cattle reared in Scotland are sold in Cumbria. Farmers dependent on common standards on both sides are about to see those standards undermined.

"Our farmers, across all nations, are to be sold down the river. Every poor decision, every compromise will sow more seeds of discontent in the devolved nations, playing into the hands of those who are desperate to split us asunder.

"We need all the nations around the table and robust regulation of market and trading decisions, so that my farmers in Cumbria are not undercut by Government regulations-and then really until they are none the wiser and it is too late.

"We have the best standards of animal welfare, environmental control, and food safety in the world. I do not want there to be an in-built race to the bottom within the nations of the United Kingdom that undermine that correct reputation."