Trade Bill 'shows contempt for public and parliament'

By Agencies
November 8, 2017

Yesterday (7 November 2017) the government pubished a new Trade Bill. Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, said, "For the first time in over 40 years the UK will be able to shape our own trade and investment agenda – and we are determined that businesses and consumers can take advantage of this opportunity. We are getting on with delivering a successful Brexit, by seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU, and by boosting our existing trading relationships with old partners while opening up access to new and exciting markets across the world."

More than 60,000 people responded to the Trade White Paper consultation, which closed on 6 November, calling for steps to make trade policy more democratic after Brexit, via campaign groups Global Justice Now, War on Want, 38 Degrees and SumOfUs.

Commenting on the Bill, Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now said, "Liam Fox has today shown utter contempt for the public and parliament by publishing the trade bill before the ink is even dry on tens of thousands of responses to his own consultation. People across the political spectrum have been calling for a clearly defined role for MPs in scrutinising trade deals after Brexit, rather than giving Liam Fox the power to bargain away rights and protections on everything from food safety to the NHS.

“By tabling this dog's breakfast of a trade bill today, Fox is making a mockery of democracy, and giving the lie to the pledge that Brexit would restore parliamentary sovereignty. We now have a matter of months to prevent a government which aggressively pushed TTIP, the hated EU-US trade deal, from giving Liam Fox a free hand to introduce TTIP on steroids.

“Just yesterday US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross was in London talking of a trade ‘partnership’ with the UK after Brexit. Coming from a man known as 'the bankruptcy king' during his history of vulture capitalism, these are not reassuring words. He will be free to feed off the carcass of Brexit Britain unless MPs have the power to stop him.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “Liam Fox has rushed out a ramshackle bill that barely pays lip service to the consultation his department ran. It shows how little he cares about the views of Britain’s workers and British industry.

“The bill offers no protection for workers’ rights. It offers no protection for public services like the NHS. And it would let ministers push though dodgy deals.

“Liam Fox must not be allowed to undermine our chances of getting a good deal with the EU by wheeler-dealing with countries that lack proper protections for workers. The trade bill must guarantee that the price of entry to a trade deal involving Britain is signing up to the strongest protections for workers and public services.”

More than 100 MPs from all opposition parties, as well as the DUP, have signed EDM 128 calling for a range of measures to subject trade deals after Brexit to proper parliamentary scrutiny. It is the third most popular motion out of over 500 in the session.

Early Day Motion 128 calls for:

  • The right of Parliament to set a thorough mandate to govern each trade negotiation, with a remit for the devolved administrations
  • The right of the public to be consulted as part of setting that mandate
  • A presumption of full transparency in negotiations
  • The right of Parliament to amend and to reject trade deals, with full debates and scrutiny guaranteed and a remit for the devolved administrations
  • The right of Parliament to review trade deals and withdraw from them in a timely manner.

* Global Justice Now https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/

* TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

* Department for International Trade https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade

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