TWEEDDALE MP David Mundell has defended himself after rejecting a chance to protect farmers from low quality imports.

Mr Mundell was among the Westminster parliamentarians who voted against a bid to ban hormone-injected beef.

Some farming figures criticised MPs for their actions, but Mr Mundell has insisted his Conservative Party colleagues want to support the agriculture industry.

Mr Mundell said: "Ministers have pledged to keep our import standards, which include the ban on chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef.”

Devon MP Neil Parish’s suggested amendment to the Agriculture Bill was turned down in the House of Commons on May 13.

If the amendment had been successful, in future the UK would only be able to accept other countries’ food items if they had been produced to the equivalent welfare standards upheld in Britain.

NFU Scotland’s policy director Jonnie Hall said it was “deeply disappointing” that the amendment lost by 51 votes.

Meanwhile, Borders farmer Alec Wilson said: “I fear the worst every time Westminster has anything to do with agricultural policy.”

Mr Mundell, who represents Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, told this newspaper that while he understood the intentions behind Mr Parish’s amendment, he feared the impact it would have on trade negotiations.

However, the former Scottish Secretary believes Boris Johnson’s government “remains committed” to protecting farmers and consumers.

He said: “No UK import standards would be diminished as part of any future trade agreement.

"The government also stresses they will not undermine the UK's high domestic environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards by enshrining in any agreement that British farmers are always able to compete."