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Brexit news – live: Trade deals may render UK’s green effort ‘pointless’, as minister admits NI issues

Watch live as Boris Johnson gives speech on plans to ‘level up’ UK

Britain’s post-Brexit trade deals could cause such damage to the environment and animal welfare it will make UK efforts to avoid harm “pointless”, Henry Dimbleby has warned.

The food tsar, who today published the National Food Strategy, and made recommendations including a snack tax, echoed fears that the controversial no-restrictions deal struck with Australia will be a model for deals with much bigger food exporters.

“If they do this kind of no-tariff, no-quota deal with Brazil or the US, it would not only export huge amounts of environmental and animal welfare harms … but it would lay waste to the livelihoods of a large percentage of our farmers too,” he said, before pointing out the government has so far failed to explain how it will protect “post-Brexit standards”.

It comes as Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator acknowledged his agreement made it “too much trouble” for some businesses to carry on trading with Northern Ireland. David Frost admitted to a parliamentary inquiry that he had not fully foreseen the “chilling effect” of the Protocol, which has left smaller firms facing higher costs.


Sam Hancock15 July 2021 11:10

PM to deliver ‘levelling up’ speech from Coventry

Boris Johnson is due to deliver a speech in the next few minutes on his plans to “level up and unite the country”, something he has previously described as “the central purpose of [his] premiership”.

He will speak from Coventry at a time when some Conservatives fear their “traditional supports” are being neglected as the PM seeks to abolish inequality.

It is not thought Mr Johnson will announce any new policies today, or that the speech will be particularly long, according to BBC reports from inside Westminster.

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 11:05

Frost admits to shortfalls of Brexit deal for companies trading with NI

David Frost has said he understands why businesses are abandoning trade with Northern Ireland because his Brexit agreement has made it “too much trouble” to carry on.

“They are often SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] and micro-businesses. Dealing with this is a significant call on their time and they decide it’s just not worth it,” Lord Frost said.

“That’s why you are seeing some of the trade diversion and supply-chain issues to Northern Ireland that we’re seeing.”

Back to our deputy political editor Rob Merrick for more:

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 11:01

Post-Brexit trade deals ‘risk harming UK environmental efforts,’ warns Dimbleby

Britain’s trade agreement with Australia could cause such damage to the environment and animal welfare it will make UK efforts to avoid harm “pointless”, his food tsar, Henry Dimbleby, is warning.

Mr Dimbleby – who today calls for sugar and salt taxes to cut obesity – also echoed fears that the controversial no-restrictions deal struck with Australia will be a model for deals with much bigger food exporters.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports:

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 10:40

Changing Britain’s diet could benefit climate and environment – report

A major focus of the National Food Strategy is not just the sugar and tax levy, but the food industry’s harmful impact on the environment.

It recommends that meat consumption must fall by 30 per cent over the next 10 years if the UK is to get to grips with the interlinked climate, nature and health crises, and argues that the role of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) should be expanded to cover sustainable and healthy eating as well as food safety.

As part of this expansion, the review notes that FSA should work with the government to develop new sustainable national eating guidelines and a food labelling system to help consumers understand the environmental impact of what they eat.

The government has also been urged to invest £1bn of research into plans to improve the national diet and the sustainability of farming practices.

This money should be spent on “everything from methane-reducing additives for sheep and cattle to new agro-ecological techniques” and research into “alternative proteins,” the report says.

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Report advises ministers spend money on methane-reducing additives for sheep and cattle

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Report advises ministers spend money on methane-reducing additives for sheep and cattle

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 10:25

GPs on holiday in Cornwall asked to pick up extra shifts

Doctors enjoying a holiday in Cornwall are being asked to take shifts at General Practices in the area to help cope with a shortage in staff.

Several surgeries in the Roseland Peninsula area of the county took to social media to advertise the shifts which they said could help to “pay for the extortionate cost of the hols”.

Practice manager Nicola Davies took to Twitter to advertise the shifts after having tried to fill them, in more conventional ways, with no success. She wrote on social media asking holidaying doctors to “give her a shout.”

Eleanor Sly reports:

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 10:00

Minister challenged over increasing low-income family bills with sugar tax

A bit more from Robert Jenrick’s interview on LBC earlier.

Things got heated when presenter Nick Ferrari challenged the minister over proposed food taxes, asking: “How is it levelling up to put an addition £180 on a family’s shopping bill, adding 87p to a packet of Frosties?”

The housing secretary said it “isn’t the government’s policy” and that it was an “independent report”, before going on to say the government would be “cautious” before “burdening” low-income families with such a levy.

When Mr Ferrari asked if this meant the report had been “rejected” by ministers, the minister responded that they had “only received it this morning”.

Downing Street is yet to comment on the findings.

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 09:44

Ministers hints government will reject ‘burden’ of sugar and salt taxes

A senior minister has hinted that the government will reject proposals to bring in new a new tax on sugar and salt to help remedy Britain’s addiction to junk food.

The newly published National Food Strategy review said the government must take action to encourage people to eat less sugar, salt and meat in an effort to save lives, protect the NHS and the environment.

However, communities secretary Robert Jenrick told LBC Radio: “I think you have to be very cautious before putting burdens on members of the public, particularly those on lower incomes.”

Follow my colleague Adam Forrest’s breaking report here:

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 09:16

Dimbleby: Review’s advice ‘doable’ but only government can decide action to take

It’s down to the government now, Henry Dimbleby has said. The restaurateur told the BBC the recommendations in his report on national food strategy are “doable” and “powerful”, but he cannot guarantee ministers will implement them.

“The government clearly needs to make a change and I think the recommendations I’ve made are doable, powerful and in the short term will create change,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“I will be out there making the case for them as strongly as I can but in the end it’s the government’s decision. They are elected, I am not elected, and it’s their decisions on what policies they make, but I will certainly be making the case as strongly as I can.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick appeared to shift the responsibility onto his colleague George Eustice, the environment secretary, earlier. Mr Jenrick said the review would be “considered” before the government made its own recommendations.

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 09:14

Sugar and salt tax will make ‘worst foods better’

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Henry Dimbleby explained further the idea of “reformulation”, saying will work in the same way the sugary drinks levy did.

Sam Hancock15 July 2021 09:10