Shutting out Parliament from trade deals is terrifying for NHS, food standards and climate

Monday, 20 July, 2020

Reacting to the House of Commons votes today on the Trade Bill, Jean Blaylock, trade campaigner at Global Justice Now said:

"The government’s fixation on secrecy and its obstinate refusal to give parliament a say on trade deals is alarming. Its own backbenchers tabled an amendment to ensure basic democratic oversight and guarantee MPs a vote. MPs from seven other parties supported it. Business groups, unions, consumer groups, environmental groups, doctors, food and farming groups all lined up to say this is the least we would expect of a modern UK trade policy. Yet the government has refused to listen and whipped its MPs to reject it.

"When you understand what is at stake, this is terrifying. Many MPs spoke of the need to protect our NHS because it is all that has stood between us and devastation in the last few months. Yet this bill does nothing to ensure the NHS is off the table in trade negotiations. They spoke of how reckless it is not to ensure trade policy is aligned with climate objectives. They spoke of how the US agriculture secretary wants to force us to lower our food standards. When you understand what is at stake, you also begin to wonder what the government’s secrecy is trying to hide. The only protection left now is public outrage. And public outrage will grow rapidly after this."

Amendment NC4 to the Bill, which would have given MPs a vote over future trade deals, was defeated by 326 votes to 263, a majority of 63.

Photo: Leeweh/Shutterstock