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By Gully Foyle – 3 minute read

ON 8TH JULY 2020, a group of farmers drove tractors to Westminster, to protest against the idea of a trade deal between the UK and the USA, and what they considered that would entail – an acceptance of US food standards including chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef. They appeared under the banner “Save British Farming” – but what’s in a name? Is this protest group really what it appears to be?

Now going by the name “Save British Food”, the protest group originally positioned itself as being a bulwark against a lowering of food standards, put at risk by a wish to achieve a trade deal with the USA. The group appears for all intents and purposes to be a one-woman affair, the former Lib Dem candidate and passionate EU campaigner Liz Webster.

Recent interviews naturally shifted away from the topic of the US trade deal, as this has (during the Biden administration) become unlikely for the foreseeable future – but the rhetoric has remained the same; that UK food standards are at risk due to leaving the EU, and that the only thing that can save said standards is a return to EU membership.

On the face of it, the position taken by Liz Webster / SBF seems to be somewhat contradictory. In recent interviews on the topic of Australia and New Zealand FTAs, Webster decried the opening up of the UK market to Antipodean exporters, stating the removal of quotas and tariffs would harm UK farmers. This is, however, exactly what EU membership allowed for, and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement still allows for – with high volumes of imports coming from Ireland in particular because of it.

Many of Liz Webster’s arguments also seem to come from a position of outright ignorance:

  • Having argued incessantly that membership of the CPTPP trading group of nations would require the UK to accept hormone-treated beef from Canada, when the agreement reached does not require it at all.
  • Having also argued many times the UK has lowered food standards by agreeing new trade deals – when not a single food standard has been lowered.
  • On a recent Newsnight episode Webster was interviewed on the topic of delays to post-Brexit import checks on goods from the EU when she stated the UK “relies on the EU to feed us more than it ever has done”. The UK currently imports around 25% of its food from the EU27 – the comparative figure was around 29% in 2016.
  • In June she stated on X (formerly Twitter) that Poland would overtake the UK in GDP by 2030 – when the Polish GDP, being a quite sizeable $700bn, is less than a quarter of the UK’s $3.2tn.
  • Again in June, in an interview on LBC, she stated the EU provides over half of all the food we eat in the UK. As above, this is simply not true and never was.

Despite having become somewhat of a long-running joke on social media for rarely being correct about anything, Webster still receives airtime and press coverage – something you would be forgiven for thinking her particularly loose grip on truth and reality would hinder, especially from outlets like the BBC. But dig a little deeper and things start to make a bit more sense.

A read of the ‘Save British Food’ privacy policy reveals the truth – that the campaign group is actually a front for March for Change Campaign Ltd. If the name sounds familiar to you, well it should be – as it used to be known as UK In Europe Campaign Ltd, the Mike Galsworthy-fronted post-Brexit campaign group for rejoining the EU. Mike Galsworthy is now Chairman of the European Movement UK.

Once you realise the entire efforts of “Save British Food” have nothing to do with British food, and everything to do with trying to rejoin the EU, suddenly everything begins to piece together. Whatever the topic happens to be when interviewed, Ms Webster will change the topic into why the UK needs to rejoin the EU. As this is ultimately what her campaign is being funded to do by those who support her campaign group, and ultimately what her real aims are.

For an example of this, you need look no further than a poll conducted by The Express in early July, where Webster urged her followers to take part stating that it was important – and repeatedly pointing out you could vote more than once, thus rigging the outcome of the poll. A fact she neglected to mention when the results were of course heavily in her desired outcome. Intentionally rigging an online poll to suggest a change in public opinion is surely not the action of a person that we should in any way take seriously.

In June 2023, the company March for Change Campaign Ltd was dissolved – but is still listed as the data controller for Liz Webster’s SBF outlet. At the time of writing this raises serious questions about the security of any personal data that may have been gathered by the campaign group, where it is now, and ultimately in whose control it now is. Such tardy and sloppy management suggests that when it comes to the security and confidentiality of those who have entrusted their data to Webster and SBF, re-joining the EU is far more important to them.

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Gully Foyle is a passionate researcher and commentator on post-Brexit trade between the UK and the rest of the world. You can find out more on his X (formerly Twitter) profile at https://twitter.com/TerraorBust 

Image of  UK / EU masks by T2

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