Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives has warned UK’s International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, that they must “diverge” from EU protected status on native products or put a US trade deal at risk.
The US has pulled the plug on a previous deal with the EU, over the bloc’s attempts to ban the sale of American products such as parmesan, feta and champagne. Fox has written to David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, warning him not to give in over the issue during negotiations with Brussels, reports the Daily Telegraph.
However, the chief EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, has insisted that the matter is “not negotiable” and that the UK must sign up to safeguarding 3,300 protected food and drink products, preserved under a system of “geographical indications”.
Current EU rules mean countries are prevented from branding certain products according to their origin if they are not from there – such as whisky as Scotch if it is not from Scotland, and crumbly salad cheese as feta if it is not Greek.
It comes after US ambassador Charles Ries told Business Insider that, given each side’s redlines, it would be “very difficult” for the UK to strike a deal with the EU after conceding to US demands.
Reports have surfaced that the government was facing a threat from more than 50 Tory MPs to block any move to leave the EU without a deal being struck.
A former cabinet minister has warned that a “humble address” could be enacted after worries that food and medicine shortages and tailbacks at the UK’s borders were possible, reports The Independent.
A “humble address” is a parliamentary device which allows MPs to debate a topic and vote on it, without a bill being put forward, and without any new law being created, but in such a way that the government is required to act.
“There are at least 50 Conservative MPs who would be prepared to vote to stop it happening, which would be more than enough to force the government to take notice,” they said.
Fox yesterday told Sky News that a ‘no deal’ remained a distinct possibility. “We’ve got to be free in the negotiation to say if we don’t get the deal we want, there won’t be any agreement,” he warned.
A government spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: “Leaving the EU gives us a golden opportunity to secure ambitious free-trade deals that are in the mutual interests of the countries involved while supporting farmers and producers to grow and sell more great British food.
“We will ensure consumers continue to have a range of high-quality food products.”
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