Penny Mordaunt backs Truss in Conservative leadership race
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The Foreign Secretary voted Remain but has since embraced Brexit and scooped up the backing of staunch Brexiteers in the party. She also helped push through the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which the bloc says breaks international law.
Speaking at a hustings event in Exeter, Ms Truss said she would seek to reach an agreement with the EU on the hated Brexit deal but hinted she would be prepared to walk away from talks if necessary.
She said: “There is only one thing the EU understands – that is strength.”
The comments infuriated Eurasia Group director Mujtaba Rahman who branded Ms Truss’s words “nonsense”.
He said: “What nonsense.
“Truss lists the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill as one of her three most important achievements at Exeter hustings.
“Frost deja vu all over again.”
The Tory leadership candidate has pledged to “unleash British food and farming” in order to improve the nation’s food security.
She said she would “remove onerous EU regulations and red tape” if she becomes prime minister, without going into much detail on which laws she would abolish.
She also promised to tackle the labour shortages in farming, partly caused by post-Brexit freedom of movement restrictions, with a short-term expansion to the seasonal workers scheme.
The programme, first launched in 2019, temporarily allows 40,000 overseas workers into the UK for seasonal roles in the horticulture and poultry sectors.
A recent Government report warned that labour shortages “caused by Brexit and accentuated by the pandemic” were badly affecting the food and farming sector, often forcing farmers to leave fruit rotting in the fields and cull healthy pigs.
Ms Truss said she would also work to address longer-term skills shortages and hurdles to the adoption of labour-saving technologies.
The former environment secretary vowed to replace EU law that restricts the development of farming infrastructure and technology, including agricultural drone use and precision breeding technologies.
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Ms Truss, who is due to meet farmers on a campaign stop in the south-west of England, said: “The pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have shown it is more vital than ever for us to ensure we have a high-quality and affordable supply of British food.
“As a former Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) secretary of state, I understand the challenges faced by farmers, and they can trust me to deliver the changes they need.
“I will cut the red tape that is holding them back and hitting them in their pocket”.
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