A HAMPSHIRE MP rebelled against her party to back measures aimed at protecting UK food standards.

However, despite voting for the House of Lords amendment to the Agriculture Bill, Romsey and Southampton North's Caroline Nokes – as well as 13 of her party colleagues – were defeated by 332 votes to 279 last night.

If added to the Bill, it would have required agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards.

Peers had made the change to block the import of foodstuffs produced abroad with lower animal welfare standards, amid warnings over chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef entering the UK market from the US.

But the Government argued that existing protections are already in place and they have no intention of watering them down.

Romsey Advertiser: MP Caroline NokesMP Caroline Nokes

Caroline Nokes said: "I had previously put my name to the Parish amendment, which I believe most closely aligned with the manifest commitment I made last December. 

"I want to support our farmers, make sure that the standards we achieve in this country are not only upheld, but continue to improve, and that future Trade Deals have the opportunity of being rigorously scrutinised by Parliament. 

"I am very conscious that as a backbench MP it is my duty to scrutinise what the Government is doing, to hold it to account, and my constituents expect nothing less.

"Over the course of the last few days there have been powerful arguments made about food and farming standards by many people, but perhaps especially Minette Batters of the NFU and it can have come as no surprise to anyone that I voted in accordance with what I think would be best for British agriculture."

Ahead of the debate, a tractor demonstration took place in central London as farmers demanded food standards are upheld in post-Brexit trade deals.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood, reacting to the vote on food standards, said: “Tonight, the Government once again failed to make good their manifesto promise that they will not sell out the UK’s animal welfare for a quick trade deal.”