THE SNP have condemned the UK Government's post-Brexit "race to the bottom" in standards, after reports that the former international trade secretary Liz Truss blocked plans to ban imports made to low animal welfare standards.

The SNP say the rejected proposals would have made it easier for the Tories to ban products that fell short of standards - including beef from cows kept in confined spaces or eggs from hens caged in bad conditions.

According to Politico, Truss, who is now Foreign Secretary, blocked plans to maintain high standards in fears it would have hampered the Government's attempts to secure post-Brexit trade deals.

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Commenting, the SNP's Shadow International Trade spokesperson Drew Hendry MP said: "If these reports are true then it confirms once again that the Tory government is intent on sacrificing our high standards and selling out our food and farming sectors in fire sale-like fashion in order to secure damaging post-Brexit trade deals.

"The UK-Australia trade deal has already raised serious concerns - with Scotland's agriculture sector facing the very real threat of being undercut on standards and prices.

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"Reports that the former Trade Secretary blocked measures to ban imports of low standard products have only heightened those concerns with future trade deals as the Tory government pursues a race to the bottom in standards.

"It's increasingly clear that Scotland is vulnerable under Westminster control. The only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Tory Brexit is to become an independent country."

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK is a global leader in animal welfare, and we share the British public’s high regard for maintaining our high standards.

“Our Action Plan for Animal Welfare is an ambitious programme that will raise domestic standards even further, helping us set an international example.

"Our new Trade and Agriculture Commission will also provide expert independent scrutiny of the trade deals we sign to ensure we maintain our world-leading standards.”