Trade Bill 'in crisis as government delays vote to avoid defeat'

By agency reporter
February 25, 2018

Global Justice Now says the UK government's flagship Trade Bill is in crisis, after the parliamentary process was reportedly postponed until May over fears that the government will be defeated on amendments to stay in a European customs union.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said, “The government is on the run when it comes to trade policy – unable to convince its own MPs of its strategy, unable to justify its power grab from parliament. Modern trade deals can have a massive effect on nearly everyone in society, so it’s vital that these deals are democratically controlled. Yet the government has refused to give parliament the most basic of powers over trade deals."

“It’s difficult to overstate the importance of a decision like whether or not we remain in a European customs union. The issue must have public discussion and parliamentary control. Yet because Theresa May fears that not enough of her own MPs agree with it, it can’t pass this terrible bill. Parliament’s voice on this is suspended.

“Meanwhile Liam Fox tours the world discussing trade with a wide range of countries – yet neither the public nor MPs are allowed to know what he’s offering to trade away. It’s time for parliament, and indeed the rest of us, to get some control over this chaotic process.”  

Global Justice Now is working with others to amend the Trade Bill to ensure that parliament has the power to scrutinise and stop trade bills. As things stand, trade deals will be negotiated under royal prerogative powers, with parliament unable to see negotiating documents, and with no guaranteed right to debate, amend or stop deals. This will leave UK trade policy after Brexit with less democratic controls than it currently has within the European Union.

* Global Justice Now


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