Australia trade deal should be subject to Commons and Holyrood vote – Sturgeon

·3-min read

The trade deal between the UK and Australia should be subject to a vote in the House of Commons and Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland’s First Minister has repeatedly raised concerns over the deal, which she says will hurt Scottish farmers and food producers as cheaper imports undercut them.

The agreement was announced on Tuesday following a Downing Street dinner between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

But the First Minister said the final deal should be voted on by elected representatives.

Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
The agreement was announced on Tuesday (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said: “The detail of this should be published in full, it should be put to a vote.

“I would suggest it should be put to a vote not just in the House of Commons, but a vote in this Parliament as well, so that we can represent the interests of the farming community across Scotland.

“I am deeply concerned about the implications of this trade deal and future trade deals on our farming sector in Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon went on to quote Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who has said on Australian television that his country’s farmer are the “big winners” from the deal.

“The big winners are Australian producers, Australian farmers, indeed Australians full stop,” he said.

“This could mean $1.3 billion of boost to the economy.”

Mr McCormack went on to say he is “not so worried” about blowback from UK-based producers.

Ms Sturgeon conceded it is “not his job” to worry about producers in the UK, but added: “The fact he’s not worried suggests that the UK Government is not standing up for their interests in these talks either.”

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In previous years, the UK Government has pushed forward with legislation despite the rejection of legislative consent motions (LCMs) my MSPs.

Such motions are tabled in Holyrood when a Bill in Westminster would legislate in devolved areas, or change the competence of either Holyrood or Scottish ministers.

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss – who was also celebrating the end of a trade dispute with the United States – said she does not agree with the “defeatist attitude” of those against the deal that British farmers “can’t compete”.

She told MPs: “We have a high quality, high value product which people want to buy, particularly in the growing middle classes of Asia.

“This deal with our great friend and ally Australia is just the start of our new post-Brexit trade agreements, and it’s fundamental about what type of country we want Britain to be.

“Do we want to be a country that embraces opportunity, looks to the future, believes its industries can compete and that its product is just what the world wants?

“Or do we accept the narrative some peddle that we need to stay hiding beyond the same protectionist walls that we had in the EU because we can’t possibly compete and succeed?”

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