Theresa Villiers U- turn! Arch Brexiteer opposes free trade deal with US as ” threat to the Union”

An intriguing little Brexit story.  At a post- referendum conference in 2016 I watched flinching as Ireland’s most eminent public servant Peter Sutherland, former Attorney General, former EU commissioner, first head of the World Trade Organisation, chairman of BP etc.etc ( now sadly dead), tore into the UK’s decision to leave the EU as insane, disastrous etc., giving chapter and verse.  As he finished he admitted with a grin he’d been ranting. Batting for Britain was former NI secretary Theresa Villiers. Poor woman I thought, she won’t be able to cope with an onslaught like this. We had known her as a dry stick SoS, waving away the very idea that Brexit could possibly harm Northern Ireland; Sutherland had  surely shaken her to pieces.  Not a bit of it. Theresa trotted out her Brexit mantra unmoved without answering a single one of Sutherland’s demolition points, then sat back self satisfied.

Grudgingly I had to admire her for sheer nerve although qualified by a chronic lack of imagination, a stereotype of the academic lawyer she is.

Later Theresa came back as Environment secretary and must have learned something about agriculture.

Because blow me down, there she was on the Today programme this morning opposing the outline of a trade deal with America hyped  by the gaspingly  ambitious International Trade secretary Liz Truss on the grounds that  it would destroy UK agriculture and threaten the Union, the very  point she kept blankly denying when she was ensconced in Hillsborough.  Her interview has provoked a mild twitter storm

Theresa Villers just confirmed that everything that she had been campaigning for will trash UK farming and probably break up the union.

From former Labour Euro minister Denis McShane

Hilarious. Leading Tory anti European Theresa Villers now complaining that free trade in food with US means giving up food standards with UK livestock farmers going under. But that is what Dominic Cummings wants and pro Brexit economists insist is reason for quitting EU.

This is too much ! Arch Brexiteer Theresa Villiers on

@BBCr4today just as the Mail, yes ex-Brexit  BOTH PLEADING DESPERATELY with the government not to let Brexit mean lower US food standard imports and the death of British farming

The Times reports a cabinet split  with Theresa supporting the anti- Brexit line for a change. Free trade in everything may not be all its cracked up to be after all.

Boris Johnson has told ministers that the government “must not let our farmers down” amid a cabinet split over plans for a US trade deal.

Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, is said to have clashed with George Eustice, the environment secretary. Mr Eustice is understood to be concerned that the UK could be flooded with cheap US products that may drive British farmers out of business. Ms Truss has insisted that she has no intention of lowering standards. In cabinet a fortnight ago Mr Johnson said: “We must not let our farmers down. One of the reasons for leaving the EU is we can do things differently and better on things like animal welfare.”

Ms Truss said that she would not do a trade deal with the US if it “does not benefit every sector of UK agriculture”.

This month The Financial Times reported that the government was drawing up plans to cut tariffs on US agricultural imports to advance progress on a trade deal. Officials said that the Department for International Trade (DIT) was preparing a “big concessions package” to US negotiators in coming months to reduce the cost of some agricultural imports.

Mr Eustice and Michael Gove, the minister for the Cabinet Office, were said to have led opposition to the move.

If this is carried further it may mean the UK’s position will be closer to the EUs than generally thought.