UK government is pushing ahead with extreme US trade deal with no mandate

UK government is pushing ahead with extreme US trade deal with no mandate

Date: 8 August 2019
Campaigns: Trade

Liz Truss to address extreme free market think tank in Washington DC today

Campaign group Global Justice Now has accused Boris Johnson’s government of pushing ahead with an extreme US trade deal without a mandate from the public or parliament.

This week both Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Trade Secretary Liz Truss have been in Washington DC to talk trade with US officials. Both ministers are well known opponents of the sort of regulations and protections that would be threatened by a US trade deal. Liz Truss will speak at a meeting of the extreme free market Heritage Foundation today, and has previously held meetings with several free market think tanks to discuss US-style deregulation.

Last year, the Heritage Foundation co-developed a ‘model free trade deal’ which would, if implemented, completely restructure the British economy. Proposals include:

  • Zero restrictions on cross-border data flow, threatening to hand huge powers to Amazon, Google and Facebook.
  • Zero restrictions on foreign direct investment in the economy making it harder for post Brexit Britain to control or tax the activities of big business.
  • Strict prohibitions against the use of ‘nontariff barriers’, which would set off a ‘race to the bottom’ in standards and consumer protections, preventing post-Brexit Britain from being able to stop the import of industrially farmed food like chlorine chicken.
  • Lock-in liberalisation of all services ensuring the continued liberalisation of our NHS.

Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, said:

“As the government snubs European leaders, so they fall over themselves to get to Washington DC to talk trade with Trump’s officials. That’s because these ministers are committed to an extreme big business agenda which would see Britain cut rights and protections after Brexit, and they know a trade deal with the US can help push those plans forward. Today Trade Secretary Liz Truss is speaking to her friends at the hard-right Heritage Foundation. This is one of the groups that dreamt up a ‘model US-UK trade deal’ which would lay waste to huge swathes of our economy, including farming, and would undermine our public services.

“Even more worrying, this extreme trade agenda is being carried out by a government which has no mandate from parliament or the public. MPs still don’t have the ability to stop or properly scrutinise the government’s negotiations. The public are not allowed to see any details of these talks – even though we are told there are over 100 officials sometimes in the room. This is frighteningly undemocratic, and no wonder, because whenever the public are asked for their opinion about the detail of these trade deals, they are deeply hostile to them.”

Photo: Liz Truss meets US trade representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington. Credit: Department for International Trade