Liz Truss has refused to acknowledge the importance of animal welfare in post-Brexit trade deals, the environment secretary has said.
George Eustice was speaking at the Conservative Environmental Network’s conservative leadership roundup on behalf of Rishi Sunak, and said he faced ‘challenges’ trying to get Truss to put animal welfare on the agenda trade agreements.
He said: “He has a position that I am much more comfortable with than what I suspect will be the position with Liz Truss, and that is the position on international trade: he has made it clear that we should not not compromise on animal welfare standards.
“It’s fair to say that I had some difficulty getting Liz Truss to recognize the importance of animal welfare in particular and that we should consider this in trade agreements.”
The hustings have been a tumultuous affair, with international environment minister Zac Goldsmith representing Truss. Goldsmith claimed Sunak never showed up to climate-related cabinet meetings as chancellor and said he tried to cut funds for international wildlife programs.
“I worry, in my experience, what a Rishi administration would look like,” Goldsmith said: “Rishi never attended a single climate cabinet. He couldn’t even quote a dusty old press release from the government when the Dasgupta magazine [into the economics of biodiversity] came out of.”
Goldsmith said it was ‘hugely disappointing’, adding: ‘There have been many times when I have had to fight against Treasury efforts to cut the international nature budget.
Neither candidate attended the hustings, instead submitting written statements. Truss said she was ‘environmentalist before it was cool’ and recommitted to implementing a UK nature survey, and Sunak promised to invest in carbon capture and storage as well as renewable energy.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas accused the couple of ‘sleeping’, adding: ‘Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak can’t even bother to go to a virtual Zoom stage for an hour on a Wednesday morning to discuss the biggest crisis we face.”
Eustice and Goldsmith had to defend their candidates’ respective statements on renewable energy. Truss had previously disparaged the use of solar panels in fields, while Sunak said he did not want to develop onshore wind.
Eustice said he still supports Sunak, but hinted that they have different views on the topic of onshore wind: “I think he’s going to continue pretty much everything we started and sustained, except maybe some changes on onshore wind where it maybe feels. should not go ahead.
However, he added that because Sunak agreed with the bulk of the reforms put in place, including the agricultural payments system, which would encourage nature-friendly farming, the former chancellor had his full support.
On Truss’ comments on solar, Goldsmith claimed the problem was Twitter’s echo chamber. He said: “It’s one of those issues that doesn’t go over well on Twitter. There’s a problem with using productive farmland for solar power generation. I don’t think there’s such a concern. incompatible with the ambition to expand the use of solar energy.”
Few new policies were floated during the roundups, which aired on YouTube, but Eustice hinted that Sunak would force developers to make homes water safer.
He said: “There is always pressure from developers – if people want to build more houses, we need to improve rainwater catchment systems, sustainable urban drainage and require it through the drainage system. planning.”
Both men have also been challenged by Tory members over fellow net zero skeptics, who have pledged to back the leadership candidates.
They both disavowed them, with Goldsmith saying the party was a ‘great church’ but pointing out that Truss had pledged the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and Eustice pointing out that the public supported usually climatic measurements. Sunak also pledged to maintain the legally binding net zero goal.
Eustice said: ‘To be fair to Boris Johnson despite having a lot of people around him saying ‘remind animal welfare, get the barnacles off the boat’, he continued.
“Whoever wins, we have to make sure that when we go into the next election, we have that agenda. Zac [Goldsmith] pointed out to me previously that, ironically, despite this tendency when the party is being pressured and saying that maybe we should be doing less for the environment, when it comes to polling the public, the achievements environment are spontaneously presented.
Goldsmith said Truss would prioritize environmental conservatives in his administration, including “Simon Clarke, who will almost certainly have a very key job is one of the key people on the environment” and “Kwasi Kwarteng who has done quite a journey on this issue and has become one of the leading voices of the energy transition”.
A spokesperson for the Truss campaign said: “Trade deals are key to growing our economy and giving farmers the opportunity to sell more of their world-class British produce to markets around the world. We have always been clear that we will never lower food standards.
Sunak’s team has been contacted regarding Goldsmith’s comments.