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US trade deal 'would not offset potential losses of hard Brexit'

A post-Brexit trade deal with the US could hit farmers in the north and Britain, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has warned. Picture by Steve Parsons, Press Association
Elizabeth Arnold, Press Association

A POTENTIAL trade deal between the US and UK is "not remotely comparable to the potential losses" Britain and the north will sustain in a hard Brexit, the Liberal Democrats' leader has warned.

Sir Vince Cable claimed any agreement struck with America would not offset the potential losses of leaving the European Single Market and Customs Union.

His comments came as US President Donald Trump talked up the prospects of a "very big and exciting" post-Brexit trade deal, amid controversy over whether Britain would have to relax food standards to secure an agreement.

Sir Vince told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "It is certainly possible that there could, post-Brexit, be a trade deal with the US, it's one of the few that might actually happen, unlike China, India, which are much more difficult".

He added: "It could be significant, it's not remotely comparable to the potential losses if we withdraw from the European Single Market and the Customs Union, but it would provide potentially some trade benefits".

Sir Vince said it was a "bargaining situation" with the Americans wanting access to the UK market "at the expense of what a lot of people here would regard as safety standards for foods".

Scientific evidence, he argued, had to be regarded as the basis for consumer standards, adding: "The more food you import from the US, the less is produced by British farmers".

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd warned of the potential fall-out from a trade deal.

"The Tory DUP vision of Brexit is a new trade deal with the US which in turn will allow the US to flood the local market with chlorinated washed chicken products as well as other products of dubious origin and food safety quality," he said.

"The poultry industry alone employs up to 6,000 people in the North. Liam Fox's discussions in Washington are now putting the local chicken industry at risk."

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