Exclusive polling shows Britons back BANNING food that falls short of UK standards

Published on November 07, 2021

New headache for Boris Johnson: Exclusive polling from the European Movement shows Britons back banning food that falls short of British standards and overwhelmingly demand higher standards than those linked to the Australian trade deal negotiated by Boris Johnson.

And in a further blow to the Prime Minister, 62% of Conservative voters, 63% of Lib Dem voters and 64% of Labour voters agree that imported food should be of the same or higher environmental and animal welfare standards, signifying a resounding and rare cross-party consensus that could cause Boris Johnson a real headache.

Only 10% will put up with falling standards, providing the food is still safe to eat.

This makes trade deals with countries like New Zealand, Australia and America — all of which have lower standards then the UK — politically difficult for the PM and unpalatable for the public if they fail to uphold British standards. 

The findings are based on a nationally representative poll of more than 3,000 adults taken by Deltapoll between 13th and 15th October for the European Movement.

Support for higher standards is found among both Leavers and Remainers, voters of the three major parties, across all age groups, social class and in all nations and regions of the UK, but Leave voters and Conservative voters are more likely to demand higher standards.

70% want the UK’s ban on hormone-fed animals to apply to overseas farmers selling food, whilst 58% demand a complete ban on all imported food produced with pesticides, even if it meets current UK standards.

Over half of British voters want an outright ban on any food that has been produced on recently deforested land.

Andrew Adonis, Chair of the European Movement, said:

"Boris Johnson is heading down a dangerous path. Importing chlorinated and hormone-injected food from the other side of the world is not what Britons want.

"The British public is clear: Back British farmers, keep chlorine out of our food and stop slashing standards. 

"Boris Johnson’s Brexit is already causing empty shelves, empty pumps and empty pockets. He knows this Brexit isn’t working but his desperation to get a trade deal over the line at any cost is only making things worse. We need to look closer to home to fix this crisis."

Other key figures:

  • The public is insistent on high environmental and animal welfare standards for imported food — 58% want to apply the same (43%) or higher (15%) standards than the UK.
    • A further 22% favour different standards as long as "they can be shown to be equally effective at protecting the environment and animal welfare".
    • Just 10% would be happy "with more relaxed standards ... providing the food is safe to eat".
  • Asked about specific issues, a majority of Britons back complete bans on food that fall short of UK standards, even if the food itself is safe to eat:
    • 69% want the UK’s ban on farmers dumping slurry into rivers to apply to overseas farmers selling food to Britain; just 17% disagree.
    • 70% also want the UK’s ban on the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of animals to apply to overseas farmers selling food to Britain. Just 16% disagree.
    • 58% want the UK to ban the import of food produced with pesticides that are banned in the UK, even if that food contains "no more traces of pesticides than food produced in the UK". Only 30% disagree.
  • By almost two-to-one (52-30%), British voters want the UK "to ban the import of food that has been produced on recently deforested land". 

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