MPs tie their hands on future trade deals

Tuesday, 9 February, 2021

Conservative backbenchers give away power to enforce manifesto pledges on food standards and NHS

MPs rejected an amendment to the Trade Bill this afternoon, by 351 to 276, which would have guaranteed MPs a vote on trade deals. 

Responding to the vote, Jean Blaylock, trade campaigner at Global Justice Now said: 

"Rejecting an amendment that would have given parliament a meaningful say over trade deals is a dereliction of duty by MPs and a power-grab by the government. It gives Boris Johnson’s government a blank cheque to override human rights, block climate action and slash standards in trade talks.

"Many MPs have given their constituents promises that they would never let a trade deal happen that undermined food standards or put the NHS at risk. Yet today MPs have just tied their own hands - if they are faced with a damaging trade deal they will not be able to fix it.

"From the very start this government has been determined to keep parliament out of trade deals. Today we saw furious Conservative backbenchers attacking their own government for refusing to allow parliament to write into law that Britain cannot sign a trade deal with a genocidal government. If their own MPs don’t trust this Government to not sign a trade deal with a government committing genocide, why should the rest of us accept the government’s promises on food standards or the NHS?

"In the four years this bill has been going through parliament, it is clear that the fundamental argument on the need for meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of trade has been won across MPs and peers on all sides. But the government is determined to hold on to its power regardless of logic or reason. We need to keep fighting for democratic rights in the face of secretive toxic trade deals."


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