Amend UK trade bill to allow MPs to scrutinise deals with other countries before Brexit, consumer group warns

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February 21, 2018

The trade bill currently passing through Parliament must be amended to allow MPs to scrutinise trade deals negotiated with other countries after the UK leaves the EU, consumer watchdog SumOfUs warned today.

A group of 60 pro-Brexit MPs is pushing the Prime Minister to ensure the UK can strike trade deals with other countries as soon as it leaves the EU. Yet the trade bill currently being rushed through Parliament would allow the government to negotiate and ratify them largely in secret, without oversight from MPs. This leaves the door open for corporations and vested interests to extend their influence over UK trade policy and priorities, at the expense of ordinary citizens.

A SumOfUs petition urging Secretary of State for International Trade  Liam Fox Commit to an open and democratic process for negotiating and ratifying trade has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures.

View the petition here: https://actions.sumofus.org/a/ensure-democracy-and-transparency-in-uk-trade

“A powerful lobby with strong ties to big business is pushing for the UK to negotiate new trade deals as soon as Brexit kicks in. Meanwhile corporate lobbyists get huge access to behind the scenes meetings. This means they can pretty much write deals in corporations’ favour,” said Sondhya Gupta, Senior Campaigner SumOfUs.

“We were promised Brexit would help us take back control, but the current trade rules mean it will serve the interests of powerful companies and vested interests. As we leave the EU, trade deals will have an enormous impact on lives -- from the food on our plates to jobs and the environment. Before we depart, it is absolutely crucial that it’s amended to ensure trade deals receive proper parliamentary scrutiny.”

Sondhya Gupta, Senior Campaigner at SumOfUs said - "We’re letting the Fox guard the henhouse. Liam Fox is busily rewriting our trade policy, and there’s no way of knowing whose interest that serves because it’s all happening behind closed doors. As things stand corporate lobbyists get more of a say in the trade deals the government strikes after Brexit than the MPs who represent us. This is a fundamental threat to our democratic principles - the Prime Minister should amend the trade bill so that MPs get to scrutinise the deals, and stop setting up  

An influential, secretive lobby is pushing for the UK to negotiate new trade deals as soon as Brexit kicks in, but current rules mean MPs get no say in what they look like or whose interests they serve.

But as things stand, there are no procedures in place to ensure that MPs have a say in these deals, let alone the people they represent.

These ads were paid for by SumOfUs members to shine a light on this murky process. In taking them down TFL has done its customers a huge disservice - they are in the public interest and no more political than the £1.7m ad campaign pushing Heathrow expansion, for example."

Contact:

Oliver Courtney, oliver@digacommunications.com ,+44 (0) 7815 731889.