THE interests of workers and small-business owners should take priority over those of multinational corporations when the government strikes a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, a Labour frontbencher said yesterday.
Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner made the comment after US president-elect Donald Trump said that he was confident of making a pact.
Before June’s EU referendum, Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had warned that Britain would be at the “back of the queue” for a trade deal should it leave the European Union.
Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to shed some light on the strategy her government will be taking for leaving the EU in a speech today.
Ministers are said to favour a “hard” Brexit, exiting the single market. Mr Gardiner said Labour would welcome a Britain-US deal.
But he added: “The danger is that the government ends up sacrificing key sectors of British industry in order to get a deal done quickly. “Labour want a deal that creates opportunities for our SMEs [small and mediumsized enterprises] to access the US market, not just a deal that works for big multinationals.
“We want a deal that protects the NHS from big American healthcare companies; a deal that preserves our high food-safety standards; a deal that safeguards our environmental and social standards; as well as offering protection for workers.
“The political rhetoric must not be allowed to get in the way of proper scrutiny and a tough negotiation that ensures the deal works for ordinary people in both countries, not just those at the top.”
And campaign group War on Want’s senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn warned: “Any such deal would be geared toward stripping ordinary people of their power and handing it to corporations and elites.”
The TUC has called on Ms May to pursue a strategy that protects the interests of working people and outlined some principles she should hold in Brexit negotiations, including abandoning a “hard Brexit” to retain membership of the common market.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Prime Minister also needs a plan to manage migration better for Britain.
“Local communities need guarantees of decent jobs and apprenticeships close to home, especially in towns and communities hit hard by previous recessions.
“There must be a crackdown on bad employers who use migrants to undercut wages. And the government should increase financial support to communities most affected by migration.”
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