The trade deal between the UK and Australia has been compared to the Highland clearances by a Member of Parliament for Alba.
Kenny MacAskill made the comparison during an urgent matters debate on the upcoming deal in the House of Commons this afternoon.
MacAskill has challenged UK Trade Secretary Greg Hands over the plans, while SNP’s Drew Hendry criticized the UK government for “not listening to those who are fiercest.”
It comes days after SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford challenged Alister Jack to “fight back or quit” over the Tories’ trade deal.
In the Commons today, MacAskill asked, “Over 200 years ago the Highland Clearances saw people shamefully replaced with sheep for owner profit, now this trade deal threatens to supplant those sheep with good imports.” market for conservative dogma.
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“What does this Conservative government say that they don’t even care about Scottish sheep, let alone Scottish breeders and farmers?”
In response, Hands said, “Well, Mr. President, let me tell you a few things about this. I think we already need to understand the Australian beef and lamb trade flows. We have to understand that the producer prices are twice as high in some of these Asian markets as in the UK, which makes it very competitive for Australia to sell to markets like Japan and Korea, where the price of domestic beef production, for example, is double. UK.
“On the lamb quota, it’s not even fully utilized at the moment, the UK lamb quota.”
Drew Hendry, the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson for business, energy and industrial strategy, also spoke to the trade secretary about the deal’s impact on Scots.
He said: “Everyone wants to see more trade deals done, but the minister is just not listening to those who demand the most. National Farmers Union Scotland President Martin Kennedy said, and I quote: ‘Our seafood industry has already been hit hard by Brexit, and now Scottish agriculture is next to be sacrificed, and again, it is Scotland’s key industries that will bear the brunt of a Brexit Tories here did not vote for ‘.
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“The NFU England warned ministers that it would be difficult to compete if the duty-free trade in lamb or beef continued, and the RSPCA warned that duty-free access for Australia would betray the public, farmers and animals.
“These are just a few of the warnings given to the government by those affected, not politicians, so will the Minister exclude tariff-free access for Australian agricultural products?”
Hendry also stressed that “nothing should threaten our actions to mitigate climate change” and that Australia has “fallen behind other advanced economies in tackling climate change” and asked for assurances.
Hands responded by talking about imports of Scotch whiskey into Australia and saying there would be no impact on food standards.
He added: “I don’t think whatever assurances I gave him today or anything that is actually in the deal, would he and the SNP support this deal.”
“When it comes to trade, Mr President, the SNP is isolationist and goes against the best interests of Scotland.”
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