This was a cracking interview of Rebecca Pow, DEFRA minister, by Emma Barnett on Woman’s Hour on Thursday. We moved through plastic bags, plastic waste exports to Turkey, tree-planting v HS2, road building, coal mines, trade deals with Australia and where to go on holiday. It was robust, tough but pretty fair, and went to several very good points. But, Ms Pow didn’t do too badly either, although her own and the government’s weaknesses were exposed. It’s a good interview by a strong journalist. When was the last time you heard informed environmental questions being asked, and re-asked, and intelligently asked for over 18 minutes! We should see more of this on TV and hear more of this on the radio. Well done Woman’s Hour and Emma Barnett for leading the way.
A few thoughts from me on that Australian trade deal.
Why didn’t the farming community oppose Brexit? They should have seen this coming, and future deals with the USA, and opposed Brexit. Now they are left trying to Remain-der a Brexit done deal. There is a bit of an assumption in the Barnett/Pow interview, and in all coverage I’ve noticed, that UK farmers all need cosseting from the sub-standard produce of the tough Australian farmers – I’m not sure it’s really like that. I haven’t actually seen the evidence that there is anything wrong with Australian beef, for example, other than it might come from New South Wales rather than South Wales and that it is cheap, which consumers generally consider to be a plus point. In all the gushing media concern for our wonderful farmers there is precious little mention of the rest of us, consumers. What’s wrong with importing cheaper food if we can get it and it has a broadly comparable environmental and safety record (just tell me if it doesn’t – because no-one has so far)? Didn’t the country vote Brexit partly for exactly this type of outcome? Flogging our stuff abroad and bringing in all that cheaper food and those cheaper goods from all over the world? Now, I didn’t vote Brexit, and I haven’t changed my mind on that subject since 2016, but what’s done is done, so if George Eustice is going to start refocusing the Habitats Regulations to our environmental detriment than it’s only fair that those who want to eat beef can gorge themselves on the finest cheap beef the world can provide – or isn’t it?
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