Guardian Letters Tue 27 Apr 2021 17.53 BST
Tory sleaze and Boris Johnson’s careless words and deeds
Les Bright, Denis MacShane, Martyn Taylor, David Wall, Patti Rundall and David Huggon respond to an article by Alan Finlayson and the latest controversies surrounding the prime minister. 28.4.21
Answering a question about Libya at a Tory party conference side event that I attended in 2017, Boris Johnson said it was an incredible country with white sands and great potential that could become a new Dubai. The only thing they would have to do is clear away the dead bodies (No 10 rebukes Boris Johnson over Sirte ‘dead bodies’ comment, 4 October 2017). He got a laugh, of course, but the chair quickly moved on to my question about the need for safeguards in food trade and labelling of baby foods. As far as I’m concerned, this is typical. He’ll say anything as long as it gets a laugh.
Baby Milk Action IBFAN UK
Page down for a partial transcript from a side event that Boris Johnson held during the Tory Party Conference in October 2017 when he was foreign secretary.
PR: Thanks very much. My name is Patti Rundall, from an organisation called Baby Milk ActionBoris J: Baby Milk Action Group – I talked to you 25 years agoPR – yes – when you were trying to dish the dirt on Europe. You found something that was actually very good that Europe was doing, if you remember – really good labelling on baby food products that were harming health. You were dumbfounded – and as we had nobody to our press conference and you were the only one in the bar …[Laughter] You did a front page on us. But listen.
BJ: Very nice of to see youPR I wish I could say the same for you. But the point is – you mentioned Codex and trade. This is something I know something about and have been doing for 20 years. You have to know what you are talking about when you are doing trade deals and when you are protecting health – especially when you come into food.. If you’re going to be doing deals with corporates who are running circles round governments and everyone – you will not get the good safeguards that you know you need. You must put money to into having independent safeguards to see that foods are safe and that they are actually what people need …Chair: Can you come to your question?PR: Oh well – the question is – what are you going to do about that – outside the EU? I’m not taking a point on Brexit…BJ: Absolutely ……You made a very convincing case to me then and, as far as I recall, the issue was that ….and where you and I saw eye to eye – the issue was that the milk ..there was an SMP mountain – milk powder mountain. which was being produced I think very largely by Dutch firms –PR: Swiss firms..BJ: herds not firms ….and I think what was happening was – I believe – was that the Commission – in its desire to unload this stuff on markets – was encouraging the use of baby milk orPR: No it was trying to stop baby pictures and idealising – and you agreed with that – it was something good that the EU was doing and you were dumbfounded because you were to ..BJ: OK, OK a bit of amnesia on my part on that aspect of it. Let me… on your point about Codex and high standards – I just want to repeat what I said as I said earlier on… there’s no part of our agenda to lower standards – it’s no part of our agenda to lower standards [nor is it] part of our agenda to foist baby milk that mothers don’t want … families don’t want …on consumers… We want to maintain very, very high levels of protection and we will work with Baby Milk Action group to ensure that we do that.