The day I dressed up in my finest chicken suit to meet Liam Fox


14 May 2018

Dressed in a bright yellow chicken suit and with a camera in hand, I’m standing outside Portishead Folk Hall with a handful of other activists. It’s hot! And I can’t help cursing the good weather we’ve all been missing since forever. But I’m here for a reason. And after a 20 minute wait, that reason walks from his car towards us – Liam Fox, the international trade secretary.

Liam Fox is here to meet constituents at his surgery. And we’re here to deliver the results of a poll showing that up to 88% of those constituents oppose US food standards being imported into the UK. As we try hand him the poll and explain why his own constituents are concerned about his plans for a trade deal with the US, he disappears into the hall muttering ‘send it to my office’.

But we’ve achieved what we came here for – and got on the local BBC radio, and evening news, in the process. There are no excuses now. We’ve made sure Mr Fox knows what the public thinks of his plans for a trade deal with the US. And I’m so happy to finally take off the chicken suit.

What’s it all about?

At the moment, Liam Fox is staking all his hopes for a successful Brexit on a trade deal with the US. But that trade deal will come with strings attached. The US administration has been crystal clear that they expect hormone-filled, chlorine-washed meat to flow into British markets under such a trade deal.

Our health is also under threat. Liam Fox has previously stated that “ringfenced funding” for the “wasteful” NHS should end. With Fox in charge, a new US-UK trade deal is likely to open up our public services, like the NHS, to multinational companies who are already champing at the bit. 

What I, and thousands of other people, find really worrying is that, as things stand, parliament has no right to oversee Fox’s secret negotiations with the Trump administration. Nor can MPs stop him signing away our food standards or undermining our NHS. With no right for MPs to lay down binding guidelines, amend or stop trade deals, this undemocratic process allows government ministers like Fox to put profit before people, and continue to prioritise meetings with corporate lobbyists over all other public interests. This must change – MPs must take control of trade.

We definitely reffled some feathers that day in Portishead. But the fight for fairer trade is not over. I just hope that the next time I jump in that near-fluorescent chicken suit, the sun won’t shine as bright.

 

Photo: Jess Hurd/Global Justice Now

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