Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has joined a cross-party group of MPs in a parliamentary motion calling for the newly announced UK-Australia trade deal to be debated and voted on by Parliament. The motion, led by Liberal Democrat spokesperson Tim Farron, voices concern about the potential impact on UK farmers and calls for greater consultation with those affected. Reports suggest that tariffs on Australian beef and other meat will be lifted effectively immediately if the deal is enacted, as the quota for beef is over 60 times higher than the current rate of imports from Australia.
Mr Carmichael said:
“In the same way that the Heath Government in the 1970s decided that fishermen were expendable, Boris Johnson has taken same view of our farmers and crofters. He is pursuing this substance-free agenda of “Global Britain” because he walked away from the markets we had in Europe with little on offer to replace them.
“New trade barriers with the EU are expected to shrink our economy by 4% in the long term. Even the government’s own figures suggest that an Australian deal will only recover 0.02% in the best possible case.
“I fear that the effect of this short-term thinking will not be felt overnight. Instead we may see gradual changes from price pressures, so that in 10-15 years’ time we turn around and find that they have killed off our red meat production in much the same way that they killed off dairy before. It is essential that this is all put to a meaningful vote in the House of Commons, because this is light-years from what farmers and rural communities were promised. Those who claimed to back farmers in the past will have to decide how they want to be remembered in the future.”