The SNP has accused Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Secretary of State for International Trade, of deliberately avoiding scrutiny over the proposed UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
It comes as the Secretary of State pulled out of giving evidence at the International Trade Committee for a second time, pulling out just as she was she due to appear in front of fellow MPs – and as these Committee Members had already taken their seats.
The party’s Shadow International Trade secretary, Drew Hendry MP, warned the deal would ‘hammer’ Scottish farmers and flood markets with cheap, lower-quality agricultural produce.
Just two weeks ago, the Committee publicly accused the Secretary of State of disrespecting the Speaker and Parliament – after she broke a commitment to allow the publication of an International Trade Committee report before laying the deal before Parliament.
Commenting, Drew Hendry said:
“The proposed trade deal will absolutely hammer farmers across Scotland, forcing them to a race to the bottom on standards and prices whilst allowing cheap, hormone-treated Australian meat to flood the market across the country – perhaps that’s why the Secretary of State is so desperate to avoid scrutiny over the deal.
“MPs should be afforded as much time as possible to properly scrutinise the Secretary of State and the deal, which as it stands contains no provisions to protect the interests of Scottish farmers.
“Any deal must also clearly set core standards for foreign food and drink imports, sadly our calls for this very basic and sensible protection have fallen on deaf ears for years.
“This shoddily put-together trade deal is the result of the UK’s Brexit vote which allows the UK government to undercut the EU’s regulations and protections to the detriment of exporters and business in Scotland.
“Scotland didn’t vote for this Brexit or this deal – it’s increasingly clear Scotland needs independence so we can chart our own course and protect our interests, markets, and producers.”