UK could sign trade deals from next March, after Barnier/Davis agreement

UK could sign trade deals from next March, after Barnier/Davis agreement

Date: 19 March 2018
Campaigns: Trade

  • Secretive US-UK trade talks resume tomorrow in Washington

  • Campaigners urge parliament to take control of trade policy

Agreement in Brussels between David Davis and Michel Barnier has given Britain the ability to negotiate, sign and ratify trade deals during the Brexit transition phase – expected to commence in March 2019. Campaign group Global Justice Now has expressed concern that this leaves Trade Secretary Liam Fox with vast and unchecked powers over the future of post-Brexit Britain.

Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now said: 
“It is now more urgent than ever that parliament takes back control of trade policy from Liam Fox.

“Modern trade deals can cover a vast array of social policies – from food standards to how we provide public services and how much our medicines cost. We’ve now been told that such deals could be signed from late March next year by Liam Fox. This should scare all of us, because as things stand MPs have no ability to properly scrutinise the Trade Secretary and no right to amend or stop the trade deals he negotiates.

“The next round of US-UK trade talks are scheduled to take place in Washington DC this week. What is Liam Fox trading away? We don’t know because neither the public nor MPs are allowed to see the details of these talks, or to set any guidelines for the Trade Secretary.

“Unless parliament gets some control over trade policy – and supporting Caroline Lucas’ amendment to the Trade Bill would be the best way of ensuring this – we could find that our food standards, our public services and our ability to make some important democratic decisions, have all been signed away.”

Photo: Dave Kellam/Flickr