Deep concern at new Trade Secretary’s commitment to ‘big business freedom’

Thursday, 25 July, 2019

Campaigners have today expressed deep concern about the ability of Liz Truss to negotiate trade deals in the interests of people or the environment, fearing she will collude with a Trump administration to give US multinationals more power over British society. Boris Johnson announced the Trade Secretary’s appointment on Wednesday evening.
 
Truss is a leading proponent of economic liberalisation and deregulation, most particularly in the area of Big Tech. She authored Britannia Unchained in 2012 along with new cabinet colleagues Priti Patel and Dominic Raab and has described Britain as “a nation of Airbnb-ing, Deliveroo-eating, Uber-riding freedom fighters".(1) Global Justice Now has warned today that such policies are already being heavily pushed in trade talks with the US and could lead to a post-Brexit ‘bonfire of regulations’ in a future UK-US trade deal.
 
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:
“Liz Truss has made her name by proposing sweeping deregulation and liberation to the British economy – from housing to the workplace, from what we eat to how big business can ignore our privacy. Truss believes in letting big business do what it wants, when it wants, and we as ordinary citizens simply have to adapt. We are deeply concerned that Truss could achieve some of these objectives by writing them into trade deals, which in turn would create massive additional poverty, as well as fuelling climate change and inequality in Britain.
 
“We know from recent leaks (2) that the US administration is already pushing for lower food standards, higher medicine prices and against windfall taxes on Big Tech companies like Amazon, Facebook and Uber. We need a trade secretary who can stand up to Trump, not one who colludes with him to give big business whatever they want of the British economy. Such provisions in trade deals could also prove disastrous for developing countries, where giving British big business more power can literally mean life or death for whole sections of their economies. They will also be fundamental in deciding whether post-Brexit Britain is closer to a European or American version of regulation.  
 
“These should be questions which are answered democratically, but sadly May’s government failed to give parliament any meaningful role in trade deals. That means these negotiations will be hidden from public view, with parliament unable to stop a trade deal once it is finalised. What’s more, such deals have the authority of international law. This is dangerous territory and we urge all parliamentarians to demand full transparency and accountability for British trade policy after Brexit.”
 
Notes:

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chief-secretary-to-the-treasury-liz-truss-speech-to-the-london-school-of-economics
  2. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/07/10/lack-progress-us-uk-trade-talks-laid-bare-cache-leaked-documents/

Photo: UK Parliament

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