Liam Fox’s own constituents strongly oppose US demands for trade deal - poll
• New polling finds up to 88% oppose US food standards being imported; 63% oppose offering US corporations access to NHS
• Results delivered to Fox at constituency surgery in Portishead today by campaigners dressed as concerned chickens
A new opinion poll of Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s own constituents shows deep opposition to the likely impacts of a trade deal between the US and UK.
The poll, conducted by Survation for Global Justice Now, shows that up to 88% of North Somerset constituents are opposed to the importing of US food standards – like injecting cows with growth hormones – compared to only 3% who would support it. They further show 63% are opposed to US healthcare corporations being able to bid to run parts of the NHS, compared to 15% who support it.
The results will worry Fox, who has prioritised deepening trade with the US, because demands over food standards and public sector contracts are likely to be top demands of the US administration in trade talks. They will be delivered to Fox at his constituency surgery in Portishead, Somerset, this afternoon by local activists dressed as concerned chickens.
Guy Taylor, of Global Justice Now, said:
“Liam Fox is staking all his hopes for a successful Brexit on a trade deal with the US. But that trade deal will come with strings attached. The US administration has been crystal clear that they expect hormone-filled, chlorine-washed meat to flow into British markets under such a trade deal. And we also know that allowing massive US multinationals to run contracted out parts of the NHS will be a given in any trade deal. What we’ve discovered today is that Fox’s own constituents – who mostly vote Conservative and were split on Brexit – are deeply opposed to this kind of US trade deal.
“What worries us most is that, as things stand, parliament has no right to oversee Fox’s secret negotiations with Trump’s administration. Nor can MPs stop him signing away our food standards or undermining our NHS. This must change. When Fox’s Trade Bill returns to parliament, we urge MPs to take control of trade policy.”
The telephone survey by the polling company Survation took place between the 12th and 18th April 2018 and sampled a total of 558 adults in the North Somerset constituency. It asked:
If there was a trade deal between the UK and the US following Britain leaving the EU, there might be some changes so that Britain's food standards match those in the US. The following examples are currently allowed in the US but banned in the UK. To what extent would you support or oppose each of these changes being introduced in Britain?
Chickens that have been washed in chlorine:
Neither support nor oppose: 4%
Don't know: 7%
Injecting cattle with growth-promoting hormones
Neither support nor oppose: 4%
Don't know: 6%
The use of ractopamine in pork (a drug raising their weight)
Neither support nor oppose: 5%
Don't know: 9%
A possible trade deal between the UK and the US could result in the UK letting US healthcare companies bid for NHS contracts, allowing American companies to run parts of the NHS. To what extent would you support or oppose a trade deal that allows US healthcare companies to bid for NHS contracts?
Neither support nor oppose: 14%
Don't know: 8%
- The British and US governments have had at least 3 meetings to discuss post-Brexit trade since the EU referendum. These meetings are official but secret.
- US food standards differ significantly from British food standards, and are often carried out in intensive ‘factory farms’. To grow, animals are fed hormones and steroids, while meat is often washed in antimicrobial (chlorine) rinse to remove bacteria. This alleviates the ‘need’ for higher animal welfare standards.
- The US healthcare industry has long wanted better access to the NHS. Any trade deal that covers services, a particular priority for Liam Fox, would almost certainly allow US companies to bid for large NHS contracts. Their ‘right’ to these contracts might well be enforced by a ‘corporate court’ system or Investor State Dispute Settlement, which allows foreign companies to sue governments for regulations they believe to be ‘unfair’.
Photo: Jess Hurd/Global Justice Now