England: Liz Truss has REFUSED to enshrine animal welfare in trade deals, says minister.

Liz Truss has refused to enshrine animal welfare in trade deals, says minister | Animal welfare | The Guardian

Liz Truss has refused to enshrine animal welfare in trade deals, says minister

George Eustice says rival Rishi Sunak has made clear there will be no compromise on welfare standards

Liz Truss has refused to recognise the importance of animal welfare in post-Brexit trade deals, the environment secretary has said.

George Eustice was speaking at the Conservative Environment Network Tory leadership hustings on behalf of Rishi Sunak, and said he faced “challenges” in trying to get Truss to enshrine animal welfare in trade deals.

He said: “He’s got a position that I am much more comfortable with than I suspect will be the position with Liz Truss, and that is the position on international trade: he has made it clear that we shouldn’t compromise on animal welfare standards.

“It is fair to say there were some challenges I had in getting Liz Truss to recognise the importance of animal welfare in particular and that we should reflect it in trade agreements.”

The hustings was a tempestuous affair, with the international environment minister, Zac Goldsmith, representing Truss. Goldsmith claimed Sunak never showed up to climate-related cabinet meetings as chancellor and said he tried to trim funds for international wildlife programmes.

The Tories attacking the UK’s net zero plans

“I do worry based on my experience what a Rishi administration would look like,” Goldsmith said: “Rishi never once attended a single climate cabinet. He simply couldn’t even give a quote for a dusty old government press release when the Dasgupta review [into the economics of biodiversity] came out.”

Goldsmith said this was “hugely disappointing”, adding: “There were many times when I have had to fight back efforts from the Treasury who wanted to trim back the international nature budget.”

Neither candidate attended the hustings, instead submitting written statements. Truss said she was an “environmentalist before it was cool” and recommitted to implementing a British nature survey, and Sunak promised to invest in carbon capture and storage as well as in renewables.

The Green party MP Caroline Lucas accused the pair of “bunking off”, adding: “Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak can’t even be bothered to take to a virtual Zoom stage for an hour on a Wednesday morning to discuss the greatest crisis we face.”

Eustice and Goldsmith had to defend their candidates’ respective statements on renewable energy. Truss had previously disparaged the use of solar panels in fields, while Sunak has said he does not want to expand onshore wind.

Eustice said he was still supporting Sunak, but hinted they had different views on the topic of onshore wind: “I think he’s going to carry on pretty much everything that we have started and supported barring maybe some changes on onshore wind where he feels maybe it shouldn’t go ahead.”

However, he added that because Sunak agreed with the bulk of reforms being put in place, including the agriculture payments system, which would incentivise nature-friendly farming, the former chancellor had his full support.

On Truss’s comments on solar, Goldsmith claimed the issue was the echo chamber of Twitter. He said: “This is one of those issues that doesn’t really sit well on Twitter. There is an issue about the use of productive farmland for the generation of solar power. I don’t think a concern about doing so is inconsistent with the ambition to expand the use of solar power.”

There were few new policies floated at the hustings, broadcast on YouTube, but Eustice hinted that Sunak would force developers to make homes more water secure.

He said: “There’s always pressure from developers – if people want to build more houses, then we have to get better at rainwater capture systems, sustainable urban drainage, and require it through the planning system.”

The pair were also challenged by Tory members about their net zero sceptic colleagues, who have pledged support for the leadership candidates.

They both disavowed them, with Goldsmith saying the party was a “broad church” but pointing out Truss had signed up to the UK reaching net zero emissions by 2050, and Eustice pointing out that the public generally supported climate measures. Sunak has also committed to maintaining the legally binding net zero target.

Eustice said: “To be fair to Boris Johnson despite him having many people around him saying ‘dial back the animal welfare, get the barnacles off the boat’, he did press on.

“Whoever wins this, we have to make sure that when we get into the next election we are owning this agenda. Zac [Goldsmith] has pointed out to me previously that ironically despite this tendency when the party comes under pressure and says maybe we should do less on the environment, when it comes to polling the public, the achievements on the environment are spontaneously offered up.”

Goldsmith said that Truss would prioritise environmentalist Tories in her administration, including “Simon Clarke, who will almost certainly have a very key job is one of the key people on the environment” and “Kwasi Kwarteng who has come on quite a journey on this issue and has become one of the leading voices on the energy transition”.

A spokesperson for the Truss campaign said: “Trade deals are essential for growing our economy and giving farmers the opportunity to sell more of their world class British produce to markets across the world. We have always been clear we will never lower food standards.”

Regards Mark

See also our othert article – England: Liz Truss ‘has sewage on her hands’; Defra, Live Animal Exports, and …… – World Animals Voice

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