A FORMER Tory leader has urged the Government to abandon the plan to label staple food products "Not for EU" across the whole of the UK, not just Northern Ireland.

From October 2023, British food products with the "Not for EU" label going to supermarkets in Northern Ireland can go in the "green lane" meaning they are exempt from most checks as Northern Ireland continues to follow EU rules.

The Government plans for the stickers to be eventually applied across the British Isles so producers do not have to do separate labelling and to ensure the same goods are on the shelves across the whole of the UK.

The plans would see “Not for EU” labels on staples such as milk, butter, meat, fish and vegetables in Scotland, Wales and England despite them having no land border with the EU.

But former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged the Government to abandon the plan.

Smith told the Telegraph: "They should drop it. It will be seen as ludicrous. This is not why we left the EU. We were meant to be leaving the EU to deregulate, not to over-regulate."

David Jones, who is deputy chairman of the European Research Group made up of Tory backbench Eurosceptics, added: "There is no good reason why food produced and sold in any part of the United Kingdom should be labelled 'Not for EU', much less if it is sold in mainland Great Britain."

An EU official said Brussels had "worked hard to find joint solutions with the UK to ease the movement of goods from GB to NI".

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A Defra spokesperson said: "Through the Windsor Framework, we have secured a new sustainable, long-term legal framework for agrifood retail trade into Northern Ireland.

"The new 'Not for EU' labelling requirements will be phased in for goods for sale in Northern Ireland, starting from October 2023.

"This is a proportionate and necessary means of ensuring goods moving in the green lane will only be sold to consumers in Northern Ireland and ensures they can move without routine checks.

"We will support businesses in adapting to these new arrangements and we will continue to work closely with businesses."