INTERNATIONAL Trade Secretary Liam Fox has been accused of “making a mockery of democracy” by publishing a new trade Bill without listening to the public’s concerns.
The Bill, returning negotiation powers to Britain over trade deals with the European Union, was published just hours after a consultation had closed. Global Justice Now said it showed “utter contempt” for the thousands of citizens who had made objections.
Some 60,000 people spoke against the lack of a clear role for MPs in scrutinising deals.
Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden warned against a “TTIP on steroids,” saying that that the Bill gives Dr Fox the power to “bargain away rights and protections on everything from food safety to the NHS,” as it will enable the government to bypass Parliament and favour the interests of big business.
War on Want cautioned that the Bill may be used to decide whether to grant corporations power to sue the government in secret courts if its policies affect their profits, as with the controversial TTIP.
The group says the Bill’s wording is couched in the ideology of free trade and, though it says it will support trade that is “transparent and inclusive,” fails to commit to meaningful policies.
More than 130 MPs have signed motions demanding to have a role in decisions about deals, that negotiations are not held in secret and that the public be consulted.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged Britain yesterday to reject the EU’s “protectionist” policies on tariffs and food standards, saying these could pose problems in deals between the US and Britain following Brexit.
But Dr Fox insisted that any trade deal with the US would not allow “reductions in our standards.”