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Liam Fox is plotting to scrap EU food standards to win a Brexit trade deal with Trump – Politics – Pulselive.co.ke

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  • Exclusive: Liam Fox is planning to scrap EU food standards using controversial “Henry the 8th” powers, multiple sources have told Business Insider.
  • The UK trade secretary wants to use government powers to rewrite UK food standards in order to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the Trump administration.
  • Sources claim Fox wants to alter food standards through the Trade Bill. A government spokesperson denied the bill would be used to lower standards.
  • Labour accuses Fox of risking putting UK “farmers and food producers out of business.”
  • The UK will need to lower its food standards to sign a comprehensive trade deal with the US.

LONDON — Liam Fox is planning to use controversial “Henry the 8th” powers to scrap European food standards in order to pave the way for a trade deal with the US after Brexit.

Theresa May’s government has insisted that they will not water down EU regulations which currently prohibit the sale of products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef in Britain.

However, Fox and Crawford Falconer, the UK’s chief trade negotiation adviser, have privately discussed rewriting UK food standards through the upcoming Trade Bill, a well-placed source with Fox’s Department for International Trade told Business Insider.

Fox’s plans were confirmed by another government source as well as two sources who work closely with his department.

“Nothing is completely off the table. We are going to keep the same high level of health and safety standards but we are on course to negotiate with the US for an FTA and that will require compromise,” a government source said.

UK food standards currently mirror those of the EU. The EU enforces stringent rules and regulations on food and the environment. These prohibit contentious agricultural products like chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef from entering EU markets, including the UK’s.

However, Fox believes the UK should diverge from EU rules after Brexit in order to sign wide-ranging free trade deals with countries with lower standards.

Trade experts have warned that any post-Brexit UK-US trade deal will likely require the UK to abandon the EU’s food standards. Sir Peter Westmacott, the UK’s former ambassador to the US, told BI that US-produced agricultural products would also be produced at a “relatively low cost,” posing a threat to UK farmers.

A government spokesperson denied that the Trade bill would be used to lower food standards after Brexit.

“It is not true that the Trade Bill will lower UK food standards and to suggest otherwise is false,” they said.

Outfoxed by Gove


Liam Fox and Michael Goveplay

Liam Fox and Michael Gove

(Getty)

Fox has previously defended the potential sale of chlorinated chicken in the UK.

“There are no health reasons why you couldn’t eat chickens that have been washed in chlorinated water,” the Trade Secretary told MPs last year.

However, Fox’s push to reduce UK food standards have been resisted by Michael Gove’s Department for Environment, who are wary that it would contradict Gove’s promise not to compromise environmental standards.

“DEFRA and DIT are not pals,” a source who has worked with DIT said.

“DEFRA have a big trade team now which sees its mandate as stopping DIT from doing silly things. BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) are also gearing up to battle DIT, but are further behind in the process.

Gove has previously publicly dismissed suggestions that the UK should lower standards in order to win a deal with the US.

“The Cabinet is agreed that there should be no compromise on high animal welfare and environmental standards. In America they cannot guarantee the same high standards in terms of how chickens are reared that we insist on here,” he told MPs last year.

“Unless there is a change in the American side, we would say that those animal welfare rules are things on which we will not compromise.”

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‘Nightmare scenario’ for British consumers


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(Facebook/McDonald’s)

Fox’s apparent determination to push ahead with plans to alter food standards after Brexit comes as the prime minister comes under renewed pressure to abandon plans to sign up Britain to continued regulatory alignment with the EU after Brexit.

The Initiative for Free Trade, a right-wing organisation with close links to Fox and US President Trump, will this week unveil proposals for a UK-US free trade deal based on cutting back food and environmental regulations.

Fox’ colleague, Treasury minister Liz Truss, reportedly told one of the think tanks involved in the proposals that the UK is being held back by “a thicket of regulation and control” and should pursue an “Anglo-American dream.”

The government’s opponents accused Fox and the government of setting up a “nightmare” scenario for British consumers.

“Theresa May has not even concluded a withdrawal agreement and already Liam Fox is seizing powers to lower our food and animal welfare standards and protections,” Barry Gardiner MP, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary told BI.

“All in order to strike a quick and grubby trade deal with President Trump.

“When will the Tories understand that lower environmental standards, chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef is not a dream but a nightmare? Opening up our markets to big US agribusiness risks putting many of our farmers and food producers out of business and fundamentally damage our countryside.”

Labour MP Peter Kyle, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, told BI: “In the UK we are rightly proud of the high-quality, world-class food we produce. Our farmers do not want to reduce standards or to allow cheaply-produced, lower quality imports to flood the market just to appease the likes of Donald Trump.”

“Our food production and environmental standards must not be carved up at the whims of Liam Fox.”

A senior source in the House of Lords warned that peers would also block any move by Fox to redesign the country’s food standards using Henry the 8th powers.”It will go down like a bucket of sick,” they told BI.

“For Henry the 8th powers to be abused like that would go down very badly in the House of Lords.”



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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