THE MP for the South Lakes has warned of the 'undermining' effects the Government's Brexit legislation would have for Cumbria's farming and agriculture sector.

The Internal Market Bill passed through the House of Commons this week.

Having already made headlines and drawn international criticisms for its 'intended breach' of the Good Friday Agreement, Tim Farron has also underlined the bill's adverse consequences for county farmers.

One of the by-products of the legislation, he said, was a 'toothless' regulator that will 'drive down agricultural standards across the board'.

Mr Farron also said: "In South Cumbria, I am 50 miles from the Scottish border. I have no desire to live 50 miles from a foreign border-not in my lifetime, nor in my children's or grandchildren's lifetimes.

"There are both practical and emotional reasons why this Bill is the worst thing to come to the House of Commons in the 15 years that I have been a Member of Parliament. Cumbria does not have a more important internal market than our relationship with south-west Scotland.

"It is a porous border, not even recognised by many: people work on one side of the border and live on the other; they go to school on one side and visit their GP on the other.

"Sheep reared in Cumbria are sold in Scotland. Cattle reared in Scotland are sold in Cumbria. Farmers dependent on common standards on both sides are about to see those standards undermined.

"Our farmers, across all nations, are to be sold down the river. Every poor decision, every compromise will sow more seeds of discontent in the devolved nations, playing into the hands of those who are desperate to split us asunder.

"We need all the nations around the table and robust regulation of market and trading decisions, so that my farmers in Cumbria are not undercut by Government regulations-and then really until they are none the wiser and it is too late.

"We have the best standards of animal welfare, environmental control, and food safety in the world. I do not want there to be an in-built race to the bottom within the nations of the United Kingdom that undermine that correct reputation."

The bill has proven a rare point of party-political agreeance in South Lakeland where the bitterly divisive Brexit question is concerned. 

The legislation has also provoked backbench opposition within Tory ranks.

South Lakes councillor and leader of the Conservatives group at the local authority, James Airey, said today: "In this instance, I've got to agree with Tim's comments.

"Agricultural standards are really important to us. British produce is unique and we should be looking to guarantee that continues.

"Those standards should come with cast-iron guarantees. We should not be importing any food that doesn't meet the tough standards demanded of our own farmers - and that would need to be governed by a robust regulator.

"I think the Lords were right to throw it [the bill] back. Talk is cheap - while the Government is saying in many cases the right thing, it needs to make sure this is translated into legislation."