**Update 22 November 2017 -- the government's Trade Bill was published on 7 November, with a gaping hole in it -- nothing to ensure that trade policy will be scrutinised by MPs, let alone us, the public. We delivered this petition on 21 November, but it remains open and we are still collecting signatures!***
The government’s trade white paper has landed. And it’s paving the way for post-brexit trade deals that promise to be even worse than TTIP threatened to be.
Modern trade deals are about so much more than tariffs. They have huge impacts, both good and bad on almost every sector of the economy, from agriculture and energy to public services like the NHS.
Yet, under current rules, Theresa May’s government has almost unchecked powers to negotiate trade agreements. Incredibly even MPs are not guaranteed to have a say, let alone you and me, the public.
As we leave the EU, the UK will need to negotiate and renegotiate hundreds of trade deals -- for the first time since the early 1970s. And right now, the government can go about it in secret, free to give corporations what they want.
Let’s fix that.
Tell trade secretary Liam Fox to commit to an open and democratic process for negotiating and ratifying trade deals.
We know that the infamous US-EU trade pact TTIP and its EU-Canada sister deal CETA are the likely blueprints for future trade deals. So we have a good idea of what dangers lie ahead.
First up is the fact that we don’t have the right to scrutinise the content of these secretive mega-deals. Deals that threaten labour standards, public health and the environment can be signed, sealed and delivered without even a vote in parliament. And if MPs don’t get a say, big business gets an even bigger influence.
Corporate lobbyists have a huge amount of access to behind-the-scenes meetings with the government and pretty much get to write these trade agreements in the process. In doing so they make sure that corporations extend their reach and power as much as possible.
Liam Fox: commit to an open and democratic process for negotiating and ratifying trade deals.
In his white paper, trade secretary Liam Fox states that the government is committed to developing an inclusive and transparent trade policy. And that means we need a proper democratic process that guarantees:
- The right of Parliament to set a thorough mandate to govern each trade negotiation, with a remit for the devolved administrations,
- The right of the public to be consulted as part of setting that mandate,
- A presumption of full transparency in negotiations,
- The right of Parliament to amend and to reject trade deals, with full debates and scrutiny guaranteed and a remit for the devolved administrations, and
- The right of Parliament to review trade deals and withdraw from them in a timely manner.
Liam Fox: ensure UK trade policy is open and transparent -- adopt the five principles for democracy in trade
When we took on TTIP years ago, it looked unstoppable -- but millions of us came together and against all odds we put the corporate power-grab on ice. Between us we killed TTIP and severely hobbled sister deal CETA too. And earlier this year nearly 40,000 of us signed the petition calling for a better, more just trade deal with the US, with thousands more writing directly to the trade committee.
But without a proper democratic and transparent process for trade deals, we’ll never be able to find out whether they put people and our planet before profit or not. Let’s change that.
It’s time to make sure UK trade policy is modern and democratically accountable post-Brexit.