MPs urged to halt Trade Bill 'power grab'
Campaigners demand that MPs and the public be given a democratic role in trade deals
Ahead of a parliamentary debate on the Trade Bill on Tuesday 9 January, Global Justice Now has urged MPs to take control of trade policy.
The Bill currently gives MPs no power to scrutinise, guide, amend or stop trade deals being signed, and fails to mandate public information, consultation or impact assessments. As a result, Labour, SNP, Green and Plaid Cymru are supporting amendments to deny a second reading to the Bill.
A petition signed by 265,000 people has been handed to Trade Secretary Liam Fox demanding public and parliamentary involvement, while Early Day Motion 128 containing the same demands is the third most popular among MPs out of seven hundred. A coalition of social justice groups, trade unions and environmental organisations including Trade Justice Movement, Global Justice Now, Traidcraft and Unison is calling for a more democratic system of agreeing trade deals.
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:
“The Trade Bill is another power grab, comparable with the EU Withdrawal Bill. We’re abolishing the scrutiny of MEPs but rather than handing it to MPs, Liam Fox is taking it for himself. He’s flying around the world meeting tyrannical regimes and proposing outlandish ideas like joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and yet MPs are in the dark.”
“Trade deals affect an enormous range of public policy – from public services to food standards to intellectual property rules. It’s astonishing that Brexit was supposed to be about taking back control, yet our MEPs will have more say over a final UK-EU trade deal than our MPs in Westminster if this Trade Bill comes to pass.”
Although the government claims the Trade Bill is primarily about translating EU external trade deals into UK trade deals, campaigners argue it is still about creating new trade deals, some of which have yet to receive ratification in the EU even in their original form. Moreover, as this is the only system there is for agreeing trade deals, it will therefore set a precedent for all post-Brexit trade deals.