Boris’ Bill: Trading Away Our Say

Boris’ Bill: Trading Away Our Say 800 450 Wera Hobhouse

With this Trade Bill, this Conservative Government is showing consistency – consistency in lowering standards and in doing away with transparency for our nation, our Parliament and our people.

In every action it takes, this Government shows that it wants to trade down and trade away. It is weakening our place in the world, destroying our cherished values and lowering our expectations. Not trading up to a Greater Britain, which is how Brexit was mis-sold to voters.

And yes, I must mention that this Bill is only necessary because of Brexit.

Our focus must be on transparency and outcome, and I oppose this Bill for several reasons.

At this most critical moment in our country’s future, this Bill fails to allow for proper parliamentary scrutiny.

This Government talks about taking back control.

Ironically, this Bill deprives our citizens of the right to have a say in our collective future. As members of the EU, our representatives in the European Parliament voted on trade deals.

Yet we in Parliament are given no such opportunity to debate future trade deals or make amendments. Who will represent our constituents’ interests now?

Outside the EU, Britain is a much less attractive trading partner. Is it realistic to think that the UK can negotiate alone the same deals it could as part of a bloc of 28 countries? Some countries have agreed to copy and paste over existing deals, but others will be waiting to take advantage of a weakened Britain. It is already clear that the US is interested in our health service – this should be resisted at all costs.

People voted Leave for many reasons. But no one voted to be poorer, for lower food standards, or watered down employment rights. Without proper scrutiny, there is a risk that the Government will trade away non-tariff barriers – environmental or employment regulations – in exchange for cheaper consumer goods.

This brings me to my final objection.

The Trade Bill should ensure that any future trade deal is consistent with our values. There should be an opportunity for Parliament to set out a framework of underlying principles. Do we want to prioritise trade with nations who do not share our fundamental values? Climate requirements, human rights, employment and animal welfare standards must underpin any future trade deal we make.

The coronavirus pandemic has underlined the need for international collaboration. Looking forward, we must do all in our power to cement our role as a strong, positive presence with our closest trading partners.