Trade deal.

IT is very touching to see the faith Trevor Sellars has (D&S Times letters, June 19) in the promises made by the Conservative Party at the last election. We will, of course, have to wait and see, but an “I” newspaper report on June 19 paints a very different reality to his “it’s hogwash” comments.

Donald Trump’s chief trade negotiator is quoted as saying that a failure to relax standards (our standards) to allow US agricultural products to be sold in the UK would be a “deal breaker”. He went on: “We either have fair access for agriculture or won’t have a deal with either (a trade deal) one of them”.

So there we have it. The US will not negotiate any sort of trade deal with us unless we agree to lowering our food safety standards. Hogwash indeed - more like chlorinated chicken wash!

Angela Harris, Baroness Harris of Richmond.

Agricultural treachery.

BARONESS HARRIS is right to raise concerns about broken agricultural promises by our Government (D&S Times letters, June 12).

For many years we have built a whole series of safeguards and improvements to our agricultural processes. These have covered a wide selection of issues from chemical usage, animal welfare and product labelling.

Some consequences of these policies have been; generally a ban on imports from countries that do not produce to the same standards; much clearer labelling of produce and not least an increased cost to the producer.

Until very recently this Government has indicated that it would be maintaining these standards and keeping the ban when we leave the European community; this being in accordance with the manifesto upon which they were elected.

If anyone saw minister of state James Cleverly procrastinating and prevaricating on BBC Question Time when asked a straight forward question, around the intention to remove the ban, they would have realised that there was a rabbit off somewhere.

This belief would have been compounded when seeing the Prime Minister during PM Questions, when asked an almost identical question. Again instead of answering he also prevaricated and evaded the question totally.

The safety of the food we consume is a matter of utmost concern for all concerned and yet this Government is failing miserably to ensure that the changes proposed are openly, honestly and transparently debated in public.

Then of course there is the question around what else are they prepared to give way on. The acceptance of genetically modified crops and access to our NHS contracts are ambitions long held by the Americans.

The reality is this Government needs a big announcement when Brexit arrives to offset "remoaners" concerns. That announcement looks increasingly like a trade deal with the Americans. To achieve this it would appear that they have been compelled to make a sacrifice, quite possibly unwanted, and it has been agreed that the first sacrificial lamb (no pun intended) is to be our agricultural industries.

Soon you will not be able to tell from the label on your food which country it came from let alone the conditions under which it was produced.

No doubt when Mr Johnson launches his "unbelievably brilliant" trade deal with the Americans with his usual flamboyance and exuberant verbosity, he will omit to mention the push towards financial penury he has given to our farmers.

John Hutchinson, Brompton On Swale.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Another day, another walk another waterfall, from Libby Harding of Leeming. This time the Cauldron Falls at West Burton near Aysgarth, famously sketched by J M W Turner in 1816.

Food standards.

I WROTE to our MP, the member for Bishop Auckland, about her views on food safety and animal welfare under post EU trade deals.

Dehenna Davison has declined to confirm that she will oppose any changes that will allow into the UK any food that has been subject to inferior standards such as chlorine-washed chicken, beef injected with growth promoting hormones or pigs injected with ractopamine to promote lean pork.

Her initial response was to reassures us “that the Government will not compromise on our domestic welfare production standards”, but goes on to say “we cannot impose our domestic production standards on imports".

In other words, in this brave new world, we’ll have our farmers producing food to our current high standards but being out-competed by farmers in other countries operating on much lower, and less safe, standards.

She also says that “requiring all imported goods to meet UK production standards would also likely be challenged at the WTO".

In other words, we won’t have the power to determine our own food standards. Whatever happened to “take back control”?

I hope all our food producers and consumers will contact their MP about this.

Phil Hunt, Barningham.

Dales motorbikes

FURTHER to my letter you published last week about anti social motorcyclists travelling too fast and making a hideous noise, on Saturday there was a serious accident half a mile from here on the A684 when a motorcycle and a van collided.

The motorbikes continue to scream along the Dales roads. It cannot be difficult to catch them.

Gerald Hodgson, Spennithorne.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

That's better, writes Derek Whiting. Stokesley is back to its colourful best, thanks to the members of Spiota (Stokesley Pride in our town Association) the many volunteers and businesses around the town, plus Paul from Rainbow Nursery for supplying the many flowers used to fill the 125 tubs, the roundabouts, Manor house wall, the welcome into the town signs and of course the town's unique Ziggurat. Linda Purnell, chair person of Spiota together with her husband David, added the finishing touch of pink, blue and white Surfinias to the Ziggurat last Saturday morning. Linda added her many thanks to all who over the past three weeks have made the town colourful for the residents and visitors to enjoy.


I HAVE just listened to a discussion on BBC News at One between Ken Clarke and Alistair Darling, two level headed former chancellors with plenty of experience, and couldn't help but make a comparison with the current inexperienced Cabinet who at times seem out of their depth in coping with the current crisis and as bad as it is now dealing with the aftermath is almost certainly going to be even more difficult.

One of the problems is that the Cabinet is virtually leaderless and the Prime Minister clever as he may be, needs to do more thinking before he starts to speak.

A few days ago it was announced that the Department for Overseas Development would be merged with the Foreign Office to work more in our national interest. He quoted the example of Ukraine and Zambia.

He would rather 'help' Ukraine not a particularly poor country, no doubt by the sale of arms in order to prod the Russians rather than give Zambia aid, a very poor country where education is not free but has to be paid for and from which the UK extracted vast amounts of wealth when it was formerly Rhodesia. In my opinion it is shameful.

David Law, Melmerby.

Right to disagree.

BY avoiding comment on the two main points I made in my letter of the previous week, Ms Woodward (D&S Times letters, June 19) fails to recognise what I was saying on June 2. She offers no alternative in her reply.

I take it, since she failed to comment on Dominic Cummings’ breaking of the coronavirus lockdown rules, that she “honourably” agreed and agrees still with Rishi Sunak’s support of the adviser's flight to Durham and his eye-test drive to Barnard Castle?

Further, when Mr Sunak voted on June 2, before the now to be expected U-turn that the Tories are getting good at, he was in effect “compassionately” voting to deny voting rights to those MPs who would not have been able to attend Parliament at Westminster. Was this not anti-democratic? To criticise his decision is nonsense – really? I believe his vote was certainly not “honourable or compassionate”.

To the point made in her fifth paragraph that people who vote for those with blue rosettes are sometimes thought of as stupid, brainwashed and uneducated, I can only reply that if the cap fits wear it.

I object to her putting those words in my mouth and suggesting that I may have used such language.

I have no doubt that Mr Sunak takes responsibility for the decisions he makes. I do believe, however, that since he is my parliamentary representative I have the right to disagree with him, particularly on this occasion about the two issues in question ie his support for Dominic Cummings and his vote to abandon virtual voting on June 2.

John Hopkins, Crakehall.

The oldest trick.

ON May 30, I emailed my MP, Rishi Sunak, politely asking why he supported Dominic Cummings’ outing from Durham to Barnard Castle and notorious “eye test” excuse.

I received a same-day reply from Mr Sunak explaining why he supported Mr Cummings’ trip from London to Durham.

On June 5, I emailed politely asking for a reply to my actual question. After a fortnight, I have had no response.

Answering the question you would prefer to have been asked is one of the oldest and most obvious tricks in the politicians’ book. I fear that Mr Sunak has little respect for his constituents.

Steve Deane, West Burton.

Student protests.

IT’S strange how university students around the world – with limited life experience – always consider they know best.

Do they know African chiefs sold slaves to ‘white man’?

They leave uni for a money-stuffing position in the city and immediately turn true blue and never go on any other protest in their lives.

However, this must not be classed as hypocritical – certainly not – it is simply part of life’s learning curve.

Once violence starts in a peaceful protest, police should immediately disperse the crowd with tear gas. We cannot have anarchy on UK streets, irrespective of a government’s political colour.

The photos I’ve seen would indicate complete disregard for two metre social distancing.

Is a global rainbow society utopia even possible? The German leader, Angela Merkel, questioned this recently. One also wonders what Nelson Mandela would think of present South Africa.

GB Butler, Stockton.

Plastic bags.

IS there a collective noun for supermarket plastic bags? I have over 30 now and am wondering whether there is a term for a collector... like... plastopterist, perhaps? It's cheaper than wine bottles and more eco-friendly than butterflies.

Daphne Clarke, Richmond.