Cornwall MPs helped overturn measures aimed at protecting UK food standards in future trade deals, despite a Tory backlash in the Commons.

MPs voted 332 votes to 279, majority 53, to disagree with a House of Lords amendment to the Agriculture Bill which would have required agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards.

All six MPs for Cornwall: George Eustice for Camborne and Redruth, Scott Mann for North Cornwall, Sheryll Murray for South East Cornwall, Steve Double for St Austell and Newquay, Derek Thomas for St Ives and Cherilyn Mackrory for Truro and Falmouth, voted to overturn the Lords amendments.

Conservative Environment Secretary and MP for Camborne and Redruth George Eustice said the legal protection "wasn't necessary" and the Government had given assurances to the NFU that it would "protect and uphold our standards".

Mr Eustice is from a farming background and his family still run a fruit farm, restaurant and farm shop in Cornwall where they also have a herd of South Devon cattle and the country’s oldest herd of the rare breed of pig, the British Lop.

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Stock image representing chlorinated chicken

Mr Eustice said: "We will be maintaining food standards - it's a manifesto commitment.

"We've already got legislative processes that protect those standards and so this clause wasn't necessary to protect those standards."

Peers had made the change to block the import of foodstuffs produced abroad with lower animal welfare standards, amid warnings over chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef entering the UK market from the US.

Several Conservative MPs also outlined their support for the amendment as the Bill returned before the Commons for further debate.

But it was stripped from the Bill following a vote yesterday (Monday, October 12).

The Government argued that existing protections are already in place and they have no intention of watering them down.

Also on Monday, farmers demanding that food standards be upheld in post-Brexit trade deals took part in a tractor demonstration in central London.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Mr Eustice continued: "We already have a prohibition on the sale of things like chlorine-washed chicken or hormones in beef and that's not going to change."

He added: "We care deeply about animal welfare as well, so we're clear that we will use tariff policy to ensure that we effectively maintain a tariff barrier against producers who are not matching our standards."

Derek Thomas, MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (St Ives) said: "The Agricultural Bill is a fantastic piece of legislation which guarantees that the UK will have the highest standards for animal welfare, food standards and environmental protection and to guarantee this, a Trade and Agriculture Commission has been set up to provide advice on maintaining these standards in upcoming trade deals.  
"The Government has also committed to publish food security reports at least once every three years and, to provide farmers and land managers with the information they require to plan ahead, there is a new requirement to publish Multi-Annual Financial Assistance plans 12 months in advance of a plan coming into force.   
"However the UK cannot legislate to regulate the quality of food produced in other countries and amendments put forward which require imports of food and agricultural goods to meet domestic standards are much wider ranging than those we have in place today. Such conditions are not in place for imports under trade agreements negotiated during our membership of the EU and they would make it very difficult to secure any new trade deals."
The Packet have contacted Cornwall's other MPs for comment.