My question during the Statement on EU Exit: Negotiations and the Joint Committee, 19 October 2020

Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): Has my right hon. Friend seen how much popular and excellent quality fresh food there is in our supermarkets with the Union flag on the packaging? Will he confirm that if the EU insists on high tariffs on food trade, where it sells us massively more than we sell it, that would be a huge opportunity for our farmers to grow and rear more for the domestic market and get back the huge amounts of market share stolen from them under the common agricultural policy?

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office (Mr Michael Gove): My right hon. Friend makes three very important points. The first thing is that UK producers are doing a fantastic job in increasing production in a sustainable way. Championing the quality of UK produce is something that we should all do and recognise, whether it is Orkney cheddar or Welsh lamb, that the UK flag is a symbol that connects quality not just to our consumers but worldwide.

The second point that he makes, which is absolutely right, is that the common agricultural policy has been harmful, and our escape from it will ensure both that our farmers can prosper and that our environment can improve. His third point is that we should be confident not just that we can sell more excellent produce here in the UK but that, as we emerge into the world as a global free-trading nation, new opportunities to sell our excellent produce are available to our farmers, and he is absolutely right to be optimistic.

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36 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Indeed UK produce can indeed be excellent.

    We need to educate people on how to shop and to cook again, to eat more seasonally, more sensibly and more cheaply. Revive more markets with real competiton and rather fewer super markets with on site monopolies.

    • a-tracy
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Really thought our broadcasters could do a better job with passing on cooking skills for example The Bake Off last night made Cornish Pasties a good, filling, low cost meal. Paul Hollywood could do a demonstration with three different fillings, how to make the pastry and put it on You Tube.

      The Jamie Oliver and Nigellas don’t focus on demonstrating how to make low cost food for a family of five. You need someone after the shows people like, maybe not the all the cakes but certainly how to make British grown vegetables into tasty meals with minimal meat to make family budgets go further – all these people saying they can’t feed their children now my Mother and Grandmother managed it on minute budgets, we never went hungry and we never got fat.

  2. The Prangwizard
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Naturally no mention by Gove of anything English but we must rectify the failure to promote our food overseas. One of my daughters lives in Holland and when staying there I have done the usual weekly food shop. I checked to see if there was any English food – and as they say the cupboard was bare, except for potato crisps. But the brand is owned by Pepsico.

  3. Peter
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Two points :-

    Many of the population eat a lot of processed food plus cheap takeaway items as a large part of their diet. Hence growing obesity levels.

    Try buying carrots that don’t go soft or cucumbers that don’t turn to mush(a relatively new phenomenon) from a major supermarket. You will have more chance at the local fruit and veg markets but a lot of people don’t use them.

    • Fred H
      Posted October 20, 2020 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      Rubbish – shop in Waitrose – always have decent carrots etc – – -if you keep them for weeks they may well go soft. If you boil for 30 minutes they also may go soft.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 4:36 am | Permalink

      Indeed Greggs alone sells 1.5 million sausage rolls a week it seems! And that is just one chain and one product line.

  4. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Yes, jolly up the hitherto Tory-voting farmers, John.

    Now then, what about those European Union subsidies that you will have to replace to keep those votes?

    Some of them seem to be a bit sullen, about the fact that they understand that those will apparently only be temporary?

    • Edward2
      Posted October 20, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      If they require skills then let’s train them.

      If they are unwilling then let’s adjust tax and benefit rules so it makes it worth their while.

      • agricola
        Posted October 20, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Total misunderstanding of CAP payments to UK farmers and any other payments the EU made to all and sundry in the UK. Those payments came out of what we had already paid to the EU. In total it was always much less than we paid to the EU. It was always payments based on the EUs priorities not those of the UK. So in future we can decide what our priorities are and pay to recipients accordingly. No backhanders to the BBC I would hope.

  5. ChrisS
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Good to see you mention the value of the Union flag on the packaging of British food.

    Perhaps you should send Tesco, Blackford and Sturgeon a copy of your question and Michael Gove’s reply ?

    The latest anti-UK issue the SNP has been raising is a complaint that Aberdeen Angus beef is being marketed by Tesco with the Union flag on the packaging rather than the Saltire.
    Tesco have responded by saying they would review the position.

    I suspect that Tesco’s extensive market research has found that English shoppers would much prefer to buy food branded as “British” rather than “Scottish”. If this is the case, it takes very little imagination to realise where responsibility for this lies……………..

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted October 20, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      I’ve got to say this insenses me. I’ve tried to get supermarkets to display St George’s flag on English products. They treat me as if I am right wing fanatic.

      If Sir John you wish to do something for England please write to Tesco and ask them why they don’t display our flag but clearly are happy to appease the Scots. Why should I be surprised though. Everyone else does right up to our PM.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted October 20, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        I have been on about this for ages. Imagine how shocked I was to find the St George’s cross on a pack of butter from the Wear Country. Mind you, it was so small I needed a microscope to see it. It was almost as if the company was bring dared to show it. Meanwhile in Scotland they have the Saltire plastered ovet nearly all the packaging. It’s a disgrace.

        • Fedupsoutherner
          Posted October 20, 2020 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

          That should read West Country and being dared.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted October 21, 2020 at 4:44 am | Permalink

            Many in Cornwall are already after independence. Then they would be reviving the dead Cornish language, ramming it down children’s throats at schools and changing all the signs, putting it on police cars and ambulances, changing legal document and demanding everything is available in both languages. The one almost no one speaks and English.

            They would copy the Welsh and the Scottish in this a vast expense and causing much inconvenience and time wasting given half a chance.

      • ChrisS
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        We can hardly complain about the Scots wanting the Saltire on products made in Scotland if we are at the same time complaining about the lack of the English flag !

        Everyone but the Welsh and the Scots are happy with the Union Flag on products made in these islands and that is how it should be. Tescos must be free to use what they like on what they sell, dictated by their market research.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:27 am | Permalink

      The irony of the SNP’s position is, that the Saltire is part of the Union Flag and so they are not being unrepresented.

      When is the Government going to bring in legislation to prevent this bigotry ?

      • a-tracy
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, Mark, we had a bus drive by this morning more than 20 miles over the border with Welsh writing all over it on a school run. I didn’t even know they liveried up vehicles in different languages I thought we were all British that is what the English have been taught since I was at school. This nationalism apparently is ok.

      • ChrisS
        Posted October 21, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        It won’t.

        This government, like all its predecessors, is terrified of the Scots Nats and won’t do anything to upset them. Mind you, the mere existence of the English is enough to do that.

        Westminster needs to get a grip over the Scottish economy because the SNP will never improve it as long as they keep being given a £10bn handout a year from English Taxpayers with no strings attached.

        Our patience is wearing very thin.

  6. Hope
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    JR, read Adrian Hill Con Woman. He is spot on as always. WA must be revoked by December. Merkel’s negotiating team were always hiding behind the French front man. All of them.

    • Sharon
      Posted October 20, 2020 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      Hope and JR

      Alexandra Phillips and Jonathan Saxty (Brexit Watch) have both written that Michael Gove has said we’ll go with the WA as is and the Irish Protocol…

      I hope they’re mistaken because that would definitely be Brino!!!

  7. Everhopeful
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I do hope that concreting over and the ambition to grow and rear more food will not lead to some abomination like mega factory farming.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted October 20, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Is that what the “killer cow” stories in MSM are all about? Nudging us ( terrorising us) into seeing cows as dangerous animals that should be locked in huge hangars 24/7?
      Disgusting.

  8. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    It will be interesting to see what happens to our land and farmers once the CAP is withdrawn.

    I do hope that what it is replaced with is more thoughtful

  9. Bryan Harris
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Indeed …

    However, our response should be the same whether or the not EU insists on high tariffs on food trade….

    Let’s avoid so much imported goods coming through Dover by growing our own.

  10. mancunius
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    We cannot become an independent, free-trading nation as long as we are tied to the EU by the WA. Gove’s announced in the Commons today that the government ‘would intensify discussions to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, primarily around [EU] citizens rights [in the UK] and the NI Protocol, and reiterated the government’s determination to uphold all our obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement and the Belfast Agreement’.

    This statement tolls the death of UK independence, and guarantees the death of the Conservative Party.

    • James
      Posted October 20, 2020 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      More than that it’s going to be the break up of the UK itself. The WA is an international treaty you just cannot say it’s not there anymore- no more than you can say about other treaties’ what for instance if the Spanish say they don’t agree with the Utrecht treaty and the chapters on the Gibraltar part and want to renege?.. but whether you like it or not Ireland is always going to be there just to remind you, we remember the Treaty of Limerick 1691.. it didn’t last very long.. and we have long memories

    • Mark B
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:37 am | Permalink

      CV19 and the Lockdowns are being used to bury bad BREXIT news. A ‘deal’ (new EEA Agreement) will be done on the 11th hour and after much fanfare will be quietly dropped from our news outlets as we would have been told we have left the EU. The truth however will not come out for some time, and by then few will care as they will have other things (jobs, home, family etc) to worry about.

    • murphy
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      we will never become an independent free-trading nation again- the world has moved on and changed so much- even if we leave to WTO Rules. The WA and the legacy issue of the Belfast Agreement are there and we have to deal with them. It is a fact that we freely entered the EEC and then allowed our membership to morph into the EU- also our involvement with Ireland over hundreds of years cannot be denied and cannot be just wished away at the stroke of a pen. You reap what you sow

  11. Anonymous
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Support farm shops

  12. Excalibur
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Off topic, if I may Sir John. Is there no one else on the planet except Andrew Burnham ? I for one am sick and tired of hearing his voice, and seeing him on television. Left wing media, left wing interviews. Devoid of balance.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 2:40 am | Permalink

      He has a begging bowl to fill. Squeaky wheel and all that 😉

      He knows that this government, and especially PM, are very media sensitive and vane, not to mention weak, and will soon give in. A bit like a little child that knows if it keeps nagging or whining at its parent they will soon get what they want.

  13. Fred H
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    A better question ‘ Will Mr Gove confirm he is well acquianted with UK products when he does the household shopping in supermarkets?

    Worth a laugh on all sides?

  14. matthu
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Let’s have the equivalent of “Eat Out to Help Out” but this time targeted to help local farmers.

    Local meat.
    Local poultry and eggs.
    Local dairy.
    Local vegetables (we may need a few better recipes for Brussel sprouts!)

  15. matthu
    Posted October 20, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Let’s have the equivalent of “Eat Out to Help Out” but this time targeted to help local farmers:

    Local meat. Local poultry and eggs. Local dairy.Local vegetables (we may need a few better recipes for Brussel sprouts!)

  16. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted October 21, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Thank God the EU, by confirming that the WA ‘has to be fully respected’ has ruled out any deal at all.
    Let’s accept that now and do the Housekeeping Acts so that British Business knows where it stands and can plan.

    • murphy
      Posted October 21, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      just like the great actress Garbo was wont to say- ‘I want to be alone’

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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