MOLLY Scott Cato has criticised Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie's decision to vote against an amendment to the Agriculture Bill.

On Monday night, MPs voted against measures aimed at protecting UK food standards in post-Brexit trade deals, amid warnings over chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef entering the UK market.

MPs, including Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie, voted by a majority of 53 to overturn the House of Lords amendment which would have required agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards.

Ms Scott Cato, of Stroud District Green Party and a former MEP, stood against Ms Baillie in last year's general election. She now plans to stand for election to Gloucestershire County Council.

Commenting on Ms Baillie's vote against the amendment, Ms Scott Cato said that Ms Baillie had broken promises made in her election manifesto.

She said: "During the general election campaign last December I debated with our MP Siobhan Baillie at an event hosted by the local branch of the NFU. Then she made great promises to stand up for farmers and won the election here on a manifesto that promised that ‘in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards’.

"This is important because, after Brexit, the government could sign trade deals with countries with much lower standards of farming than those in Europe. This is where the famous chlorinated chickens and beef cattle inflated with hormones hove into view. And keeping UK standards is no good for farmers or consumers if you allow cheaper, poor quality food into our shops. They simply won’t be able to compete and will be driven out of business.

"On Monday night the Agriculture Bill was debated in Parliament and, in spite of her promises, in spite of a huge campaign by the NFU, in spite of the tractors driving around Westminster driven by farmers trying to protect their livelihoods, our MP voted against an amendment to ensure that agricultural and food imports should meet domestic standards.

"To promise one thing and vote for another makes a mockery of democracy and this decision to refuse to write high food standards into our domestic law leaves us wide open to the import of unhealthy food, lower standards of animal welfare and a bleak future for our farmers."

Ms Baillie has defended her decision to vote against the amendment.

She said: “There has been a lot of confusion about food standards. The government has said time and time again that existing European Union rules banning imports of food such as 'chlorine-washed' chicken automatically becomes UK law once the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.  This and other measures, including that each trade deal will be scrutinised in Parliament, means we have a number of safeguards already in place for our food standards.

"I looked very carefully at the Lords’ amendments as I always want to find new ways to support our farmers and improve standards.  The terms of the amendments would however create a number of issues for the UK trying to trade with other countries and receive goods that we are all used to buying here, including from developing countries.

"With this in mind and given the standards safeguards in place, I could not support the amendments.  Even if it would’ve been a popular thing to do with some, on my assessment, it was not the right thing to do.

"It is worth noting that even the European Union does not require all imports to precisely meet its environmental and animal welfare standards as proposed by the Lords amendments.  The EU does not do this as it is impractical and would cause so much difficulty with trading partners.

"We need to be flexible as a global trading nation in how we trade while maintaining commitments to our farmers for our own high standards in food and animal welfare. These issues are not inextricably linked. We can do both. That is the aim of the government and that is what will happen.”