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Conservative MP Cherilyn Mackrory hit out at SNP’s Alyn Smith in a furious Brexit row as she insisted a single internal market would not cause food standards to drop. She also claimed UK farmers have higher standards than some EU counterparts. But Mr Smith hit back by insisting the Conservatives voted against supporting an amendment to make clear food standards would not drop.
Speaking in the Commons, Ms Mackrory said: “The British should be very proud of their standards in animal welfare and particularly in farming.
“I certainly am for our Cornish farmers and we’ve done that whilst we’ve been part of the EU and our standards are higher than many of our counterparts in the EU.
“Having a single internal market does not mean we will lower standards in anything.
“We can learn from each other and keep our higher standards in all parts of the UK.”
Mr Smith quickly replied: “In which case I do hope the honourable lady is going to support our amendment which makes clear there will be no cutting of standards which is not under consideration today.
“But it is there in black and white and it was curious to see Conservative members refuse to support a previous amendment my former MEP colleague who put forward precisely that in a previous piece of legislation that was rejected.
“This is a Government that is so desperate not to tie its hands with such considerations as well as lowering standards because that may well be what needs to be traded away.”
The row comes as Downing Street issued a warning to the House of Lords not to try to derail controversial legislation which risks overridding key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
The UK Internal Markets Bill – which gives ministers the power to overwrite provisions in the agreement relating to Northern Ireland – cleared its first Commons hurdle on Monday.
But some peers have warned it will not get through the upper chamber in its current form after the Government admitted that it would breach international law.
However, a Number 10 spokesman said ministers believed the Salisbury Convention – which states the upper chamber should not vote down legislation to implement government manifesto commitments – should apply to the Bill.
The spokesman said: “We would expect the Lords to abide by the Salisbury Convention.
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“Guaranteeing the full economic benefit of leaving the EU to all parts of the United Kingdom and ensuring Northern Ireland’s businesses and producers enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK were clear Conservative manifesto commitments which this legislation delivers.”
The Bill passed its second reading in the Commons on Monday evening by 340 votes to 263 – a Government majority of 77.
However, 30 Conservative MPs failed to register a vote – despite a Government three-line whip – while Sir Roger Gale and Andrew Percy voted against the Bill.
While some were thought to have permission to be away from Westminster – including former prime minister Theresa May reportedly attending a conference in South Korea – others are believed to have deliberately abstained.
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