THERESA May has been called on by the SNP leadership not to lower Britain’s food and safety standards in her desire for a trade deal with America.
The issue was raised during Prime Minister’s Questions by Angus Robertson, the Nationalist leader at Westminster, who asked Mrs May if she would be willing to make sacrifices on privatisation of healthcare or food safety to secure a deal with President Donald Trump.
He told MPs: "The European Union, which we are still a part of, has amongst the highest food safety standards anywhere in the world and we are proud on our continent to have public national health systems.
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"The United States on the other hand is keen to have health systems which are fully open to private competition. They want to export genetically modified organisms, beef raised with growth hormones and chicken meat washed with chlorinated water.”
Mr Robertson asked: "Will the Prime Minister tell President Trump that she is not prepared to lower our food and safety standards or to open health systems for privatisation? Or does she believe this is a worth paying for a UK-US trade deal?
Mrs May replied: "We want to achieve an arrangement that ensures that the interests of the United Kingdom are there, that are put first, and that's what I will be doing."
Meantime, Mr Robertson’s SNP colleague Philippa Whitford warned that patients could face delays in accessing new medicines following the vote to leave the European Union.
Ms Whitford, who represents Central Ayrshire, pressed the PM on prompt access to drugs after MPs heard on Tuesday that the UK would withdraw from the European Medicines Agency[EMA]; the EU body that regulates medical products.
During PMQs, the SNP health spokeswoman said: "The EMA provides a single drug licensing system for 500 million people and results in the UK having drugs licensed six to 12 months ahead of countries like Canada and Australia.
"Yesterday the Health Secretary stated that the United Kingdom will not be in the EMA, so can the Prime Minister confirm this and explain how she will prevent delayed drug access for UK patients?"
Mrs May replied: "There are a number of organisations that we are part of as members of the European Union, and as part of the work that we are doing to look at the UK in the future when we have the left the European Union, we look at the arrangements that we can put in place in relation to those issues.
"We want to ensure that we continue to have a pharmaceutical industry in this country as a very important part of our economy, as are the ability of people to access these new drugs.”
The PM told Ms Whitford: "I can assure you that we are looking seriously at this and will ensure that we have got the arrangements that we need."
Earlier this week, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, told the Commons Health Committee the UK would have separate regulatory arrangements after Brexit and the EMA was likely to move its headquarters from London.
He pledged to argue for the UK to retain the "closest possible relationship" with the regulatory body.