Trade deal: Greg Hands tells SNP MP she ‘can’t have it both ways’
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The UK Government in Westminster has called out the SNP for “trying to have it both ways” after Nicola Sturgeon’s party continued their opposition to the UK-Australia trade deal. In a clash in Parliament last week, UK trade minister Greg Hands schooled his SNP counterpart Patricia Gibson in the Commons. Ms Gibson raised concerns among Scottish farmers that cheap imports of beef and lamb from Australia could see the demand for their home-grown produce dwindle.
However, Mr Hands rebuked this as an empty gesture, pointing out that Ms Gibson’s own neighbouring SNP council was in fact telling residents to eat 75 percent less red meat.
He also said that the trade deal would create a huge boost in trade to Scotch whisky “and a huge amount of other Scottish goods that we are selling in Australia through this deal”.
During the exchange, Ms Gibson said: “Can the minister explain why it seems to be the case that our farmers and consumers simply don’t understand how fabulous the UK’s deal with Australia is?
“Or, could it be the case that this government is being disingenuous about the impact this deal will have on your farmers?”
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Mr Hands fired back: “”The honourable lady used the word ‘disingenuous’.
“But I notice that, while she talks a good game about supporting British meat farming, her neighbouring SNP council, South Ayrshire Council, put out a tweet just recently encouraging residents to eat 75 percent less red meat.
“She cannot have it both ways: she cannot be encouraging less red meat consumption and then complaining about a trade deal that she thinks will import a lot more of it.
“I remind her that Scotland will benefit very strongly from this deal.
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“I notice, again, that we do not hear anything from the SNP about Scotch whisky and the huge amount of other Scottish goods that we are selling in Australia through this deal.”
This confrontation comes as International Trade Secretary Liz Truss continues to push ahead with a reported zero-tariff trade agreement with Australia.
The deal will be the first post-Brexit deal that has not been a renewal or addition on an old one.
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The Trade Secretary has claimed the deal will help Britain bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
Total trade between the UK and Australia was worth £18.8billion in 2019 with a deal expected to lead to an added £900million in trade.
It could also add an extra £500million to the UK’s annual GDP.
Mr Hands told MPs that British firms will be able to save £115million in tariffs when Ms Truss signs a trade agreement with Australia this month.
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