Jamie Oliver pleads with PM to back British farming post-Brexit

Jamie Oliver has pleaded with the prime minister not to 'open floodgates' to low-quality food imports (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)
Jamie Oliver has pleaded with the prime minister not to 'open floodgates' to low-quality food imports (Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

Jamie Oliver has urged the government to back British farming by not accepting lower-standard food imports in any Brexit trade deal.

The TV chef has written to Boris Johnson highlighting concerns over the possible 'undermining' of British farmers' high production standards.

It comes as an Agriculture Bill amendment put forward in the House of Commons - seeking legal requirement for equivalence of standards for imported foods - was voted down by a majority of 51.

The Bill is now set to be scrutinised by peers in the House of Lords on 10 June and then back to the Commons in early July.



In an open letter for the Daily Mail and in a video watched by over half a million people, Jamie Oliver said the Bill was 'really important' to the public and their future health.

"Boris Johnson with his ministers (voted) down an amendment to maintain British standards for all future trade deals and imports," he said.



"It is inconsistent with what his government has been talking about in the past which leads me to believe that they wanted to clear the decks to snap-grab trade deals."

Referring to Boris Johnson directly, Oliver went on to say: "I believe you’re about to seriously undermine public health and unpick the delicate patchwork quilt of farmers and food producers who are the backbone of this country."

The celebrity chef said 'Brand Britain' and its wealth of food producers were 'perfectly placed' to deliver: "But if food standards are weakened, a race to the bottom will ensue – I believe it is a race we will lose.

He added that the Covid-19 crisis had made the British public 'think a bit more' about how food is produced and its health impact on people's health.

"This is a pivotal moment – an opportunity for us to build a stronger and better food system," Jamie Oliver said.

"If it turns out that other countries can produce food to British standards and sell it to us at a cheaper price than we can produce it ourselves, then fair play to them."

It comes as farmers warned yesterday (1 June) that the House of Lords stage of the Bill must not be 'rushed and stifled' following its quick path through the Commons.