THE government was accused yesterday of denying MPs a debate on a widely criticised international trade deal that would let corporations take over Britain’s public services.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) between the EU and Canada contains provisions allowing corporations to sue governments if they enact legislation that could damage their profits — such as by setting a minimum wage or creating health and safety rules.
It is similar to the discredited Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would have given international conglomerates more control than governments over the provision of public services.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox promised that the Ceta deal would be debated in the Commons.
However, he has reneged on the pledge, instead arranging for the deal to be “debated” today by the house’s European committee B.
The European Parliament will vote on Ceta on February 15. If the deal passes, it will immediately come into force in Britain.
Trade union-backed anti-poverty charity War on Want warned that the deal could be a blueprint for trade agreements the Tory government will seek after Britain leaves the European Union.
Senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn said: “It is scandalous that, while telling us he has ‘taken back control’ from Europe, Liam Fox has signed us up to a secretly negotiated European Commission trade deal that will hit the UK before, during and after Brexit without any debate in Parliament.
“This sets a dangerous precedent for the new trade deals the government intends to negotiate after Brexit.”
The only country-by-country impact assessment of the deal highlights that it will cost 10,000 jobs in Britain and 200,000 across Europe, the charity said.
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