Campaigners have accused David Cameron of hypocrisy over his pledge for government departments to prioritise buying British food.
The World Development Movement claimed the prime minister was trying to “face two ways at once” by promising the public sector will buy more British food – yet championing a deal to open trade between the EU and the US to an unprecedented level.
On Monday (21 July), Mr Cameron announced plans for a new voluntary framework for public sector food procurement that committed all Whitehall departments to buy locally sourced food wherever possible from 2017.
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The prime minister launched the food and drink buying standard – The Plan for Public Procurement – at the Royal Welsh Show, as part of a package of measures aimed at boosting British agriculture and the rural economy by up to £400m/year.
But the World Development Movement, a UK-based campaigning organisation which fights for global justice and against poverty, claimed the plan contradicts Mr Cameron’s recent support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
If the deal goes ahead, it will be the biggest free-trade agreement ever negotiated.
However, it could also allow EU and US companies to take legal action against governments that do not open equal procurement opportunities to foreign companies.
In this case, the World Development Movement argues that if the EU-US trade deal is struck, it could prevent the UK government from favouring British farmers for public procurement contracts.
Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said: “Either David Cameron is completely unaware that his plan to buy British would be unworkable if the EU-US deal is agreed, or his promise to British farmers is cynical and empty.
“Buying local food is clearly in the public interest, but future UK governments would be obstructed from doing this if the EU-US trade deal goes forward.
“The deal puts the profits of big business above the democratic right of governments to make decisions for the benefit of the people who elected them.”