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Economic Justice

IPPR reports says that public willing to sacrifice US trade deal to protect food safety

New polling for IPPR shows 82% of British people favour retaining high food standards over US trade deal in Brexit trade off scenario.

The polling on key Brexit trade-offs has important implications for the UK’s choice when negotiating trade deals post-Brexit, according to the IPPR report. The polling shows that, when asked whether the UK should lower food safety standards to secure a trade deal with the US or retain current standards, only 8% of the public think the UK should lower food safety standards, with 82% preferring to keep standards as they are.

The polling for IPPR by Opinium shows not only that the public favour high standards over deregulation post-Brexit – it also shows that the public explicitly favour alignment with EU standards to secure a far-reaching EU trade deal over deregulating.

The report ‘Have your Cake and eat it’ also shows that remain and leave voters are overwhelmingly united on their choice: leave supporters are just as opposed to food safety deregulation as remain supporters, and there is strong opposition across the political spectrum. This shows widespread public support for EU derived food standards over a deregulated approach which would allow the UK to trade more freely with the US.

As previous IPPR work on standards showed, if the UK does diverge from EU rules and standards post-Brexit, it would need to find another country or trade bloc to which it can align, the most likely option being the US. But this new polling suggests that the British people would rather maintain EU standards, than diverging and aligning with the US, particularly on food standards.

There has been widespread concern about the UK food industry’s standards post-Brexit with regard to food safety and animal welfare, and practices banned under EU regulations but allowed in other countries such as hormone-treated beef. The National Farmers Union President recently said that farmers would not compromise on food standards post Brexit, as food safety was a public right.