FRESH concerns around food standards in Scotland have been raised after a top UK Government trade advisor said that the Tories shouldn't be "too concerned" about it.

Tony Abbott, the former Australian prime minister, told a Westminster committee that some governments were “too concerned with standards and labour standards” and that the London Government “shouldn’t sweat the small stuff”.

His comments to the International Trade Committee have raised fears that the protections promised by the Tories around standards will evaporate after Brexit, and that the UK market will be opened up to things like American chlorinated chicken.

The SNP said Abbot’s “jaw-dropping comments” spoke volumes about the Tories’ “attitude towards farmers, the devolved governments, and any kind of standards at all”.

The Internal Market Bill has been accused of starting a “race to the bottom”, with its mutual recognition clauses meaning that Scotland will have to accept England’s low standards in order not to cause “friction” in intra-UK trade.

The Tories have denied they will lower English, and by extension Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish, standards after Brexit.

Abbott has been widely condemned for his record of misogyny and homophobia and his views on the climate emergency and abortion.

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However, Tory ministers lined up to defend him when his appointment as an official UK trade adviser was first announced.

Today, Abbott told the committee he had been appointed by the UK Government after a “phone call one evening from the Secretary of State Liz Truss”, raising further concerns of Tory “cronyism” and corruption.

The SNP’s shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary, Deidre Brock MP, said Abbot proved “that no good will come for Scotland from the Tory cronyism which is rife in Westminster”.

When asked about ensuring that international trade deals serve the interests of the whole of the UK, Abbott laughed at the idea of the devolved leaders being part of the delegation.

On farming in the UK, Abbott said that “some of the farms are lifestyles rather than agri-businesses” and suggested a decade-long period of adaptation and uncertainty.

Commenting, Brock said: “Mr Abbott’s appointment and his dismissive comments today speak volumes about the kind of Tory government this is - and their attitude towards farmers, the devolved governments, and any kind of standards at all.

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“It also paints a pretty dismal picture of the future Scotland can look forward to once we have left the EU for good if we stay part of the UK – including a decade of pain for farmers.”

Brock said Abbott’s comments represented another test for Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tory MPs.

“Will they sit quietly and allow a government with trade advisors who think so little of Scotland and its people to threaten its communities and produce – or will they speak out over this abhorrent appointment and concerning comments?” she asked.