A CUMBRIAN MP is pushing for improved UK biosecurity and smooth agricultural trade through agreement with the EU.

Penrith and The Border MP, Dr Neil Hudson, today questioned the Northern Ireland Secretary about moving forward on a veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) agreement between the UK and the EU.

Dr Hudson highlighted the importance of biosecurity for the UK as it remains clear that viruses and other infectious agents do not respect international or domestic borders. He said: “We know that viruses and many infectious agents do not stick to international, let alone domestic, borders. We have seen that both in the human and animal health settings. With that in mind does my Right Honourable Friend agree with me that if the UK and the EU were to agree a veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary agreement, this will not only support the biosecurity of the UK but also facilitate trade and the movement of plant and animal produce between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis MP replied: “We have put forward a range of constructive proposals to meet the objectives but also to respect the Single Market whilst making sure we do what is our main priority which is protecting all aspects of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. Such as the Green channel proposals that can deal with East-West customs and SPS burdens that he mentioned. We have got to make sure we find a resolution that works, that makes sure goods can flow from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The goods that are not at risk from moving to the EU, in the way they always have done.”

Speaking afterwards Dr Hudson added: “I will continue to call on the Government to prioritise the negotiation of a bespoke UK-EU veterinary and SPS agreement which will enhance biosecurity and greatly help our food producers and strengthen food security.”