As Downing Street refuses to rule out lowering food standards in the wake of a Brexit trade deal with the United States, chlorinated chicken is now a headline across numerous mainstream media platforms.
Don’t be mislead by the headline of this piece. Chlorinated chicken is vile – and I, for one, wouldn’t want that floating about in my gut. Nor would I want children growing up in post-Brexit Britain to be consuming toxins that our bathrooms are cleaned with, and it being classed as ‘the norm’.
The EU, regardless of what you think of it, was helpful for us in terms of food regulation and standards. The Daily Mail did a god job of putting people off food regulations with that banana story. They actually convinced people that those in Brussels stop us from eating curved bananas and cucumbers, even though we eat them already, and the EU never banned them in the first place.
Chlorinated chicken is an issue (and I can’t believe I’m actually writing an article about it, to be honest), but the outrage of this story is not the product itself, but the premise behind it.
The idea that Britain is prepared to go to enormous lengths to create a trade deal with the US after Brexit is the problem. The idea that we’re not going to hold our head high and have a firm hand in upholding standards we should be proud of is the problem.
International trade secretary, Liam Fox, who has connections with Trump and the US, as pointed out in George Monbiot’s Guardian article earlier this year, clearly shows a complete lack of integrity as we seek positive relations with the rest of the world. Our standards are slipping, and that’s where the problem lies.
We were told that Brexit was a new horizon and, as Theresa May said repeatedly, we need to “make a success of Brexit”. If a Brexit success is lowering our standards for some dirty products from America, who we have that oh-so-special relationship with, then it is clear just how little sway we have. Make no mistake, chlorinated chicken is just the beginning. We’ll go a lot lower than that. And for what?
It would be seemingly hypocritical of me to say that the government can’t know if people wanted looser regulations on trading standards post-Brexit, then say people don’t want them. But if you think about it, do we genuinely believe people wanted post-Brexit Britain to be one where we’re contaminating our children and polluting our country, all in the name of a trade deal? I don’t believe it for one second. It’s false.
People who voted Brexit are more often than not proud of their country. They are proud of the values it supposedly embodies. Perhaps our usual (or portrayed usual) quality of standing our ground is what they like and what they wanted to see more after Brexit.
Britain should stand firm on its regulations and be resolute in its standards in the coming years. Just as we can’t afford to leave with no trade deal at all, we can’t afford to let ourselves be walked all over. I doubt major British politicians will bother to acknowledge this point on their own, but people power is strong. So it’s time to raise our voice and tell them that Britain won’t be made a trollop of by Liam Fox and his cronies in the Brexit negotiations. Even if they don’t listen, we can’t regret something we tried our best to change.