Trusting a Tory government to act in the best national interest of Gt. Britain is simply not an option today. Every move they make now has to be analysed with deep suspicion. One only has to look at Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab’s shambolic and embarrassing U-turn last Wednesday just three hours after suggesting that the UK’s increasingly fraught Brexit negotiations with the EU could be completed on the 21st November or the deceit of Chancellor Hammond that ‘austerity’ is over as some sort of Brexit divident.
In the meantime, trade deal negotiations outside of the EU are being handled by the dishonourable Liam Fox – a man who should be nowhere near politics in Britain, let alone a democracy that is now stumbling from one crisis to the next. Remember, Fox was forced to resign, or sacked by any other terminology, in disgrace as Defence Secretary in 2011 because he had invited a chum of his, a lobbyist, to private Ministry of Defence meetings even though he had no official role in government and no security clearance. That was a blatant breach of national security. The other political disgrace was Theresa May appointing him back to front-line politics in the first place. Worse still, was giving Fox unprecedented powers to negotiate deals in secret when he is a known Atlanticist whose real loyalties seem more often than not to lie with American corporations, that will ensure their version of ‘free trade’ becomes a reality.
Also, don’t forget that Fox was a huge fan of TTIP – a trade deal where 97 per cent of Europeans asked in the biggest survey ever undertaken by the EU rejected its principles. TTIP was hated by the populations of every territory it was due to reach.
Fox says on his own website about the buried TTIP trade deal that the “UK government alone decide how public services, including the NHS are run. This agreement does not change this and does not change UK laws or lower consumer, labour or environmental standards. Where mutually high standards can be recognised with the US they will be, but where this is not possible US businesses will have to raise their standards to meet ours, not the other way around. There have been claims that investors could sue a government for losses and win if a government takes a decision in the wider public interest, whether on health, the environment or consumer safety. However, this could not happen.”
It was clear from the millions who were protesting every weekend somewhere in Europe or America that Fox was lying then. These negotiations were conducted in a shroud of tight security and state secrecy. It is clear that that statement does not hold true either for TTIP then or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) of today that Fox is preparing to sign.
No wonder then that as soon as Fox gets started with such trade deals that a coalition of campaigners, trade unionists and faith groups get involved. This is hardly surprising as he insists that negotiations are to be kept secret and then protected from public scrutiny for a period of four years.
Global Justice Now has, with this coalition issued a set of ‘red lines’ to Trade Secretary Liam Fox, demanding that trade negotiations open up to public and parliamentary scrutiny and aren’t used as a means of pushing down standards post-Brexit. The call comes at the close of Fox’s consultations on four potential post-Brexit trade deals – with the US, Australia, New Zealand and accession to the controversial TPP that includes: Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The coalition statement is based on concerns that post-Brexit trade deals could unleash a wave of deregulation that would affect food quality, workers’ rights, public services and financial standards. For example, a trade deal with the US could see chlorinated chicken and hormone-impregnated beef on UK supermarket shelves – products which do not meet current EU standards.
The ‘red lines’ include:
Make trade negotiations fully democratic and transparent. Give watertight protection to public services like the NHS.
Guarantee as a minimum the level of workers’ rights, financial standards and high-quality food we already possess by preserving the government the right to regulate.
Exclude ‘corporate courts’ (investor-state dispute settlement system) and use procurement contracts to support local communities.
Exclude so-called ‘e-commerce’ chapters which give big tech corporations further rights over our data
Make any trade deals subservient to human rights, public health, food standards, animal welfare, environment, biodiversity and climate change commitments.
Ruth Bergan of the Trade Justice Movement, which co-ordinated the statement, said:
“We appreciate being asked to contribute to a consultation on Britain joining these trade deals after Brexit. However, without proper parliamentary control of trade deals, it’s too likely that our deeply held concerns will simply be ignored. That’s a problem for everyone in Britain because modern trade deals affect every aspect of our lives – from the food we eat, to the health care we receive, to the controls we can place on big finance. If we don’t want trade deals to be used to unleash a wave of deregulation post Brexit, we need to get active now.”
The full list of signatories includes Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), Global Justice Now, National Justice & Peace Network, SumOfUs, Trade Justice Scotland Coalition, UNISON and War on Want.
Lastly, we should not forget what the experts say about a TPP style trade deal. It will:
Entrench the ‘corporate court’ system that gives multinational corporations special powers to bully and sue governments.
Undermine food standards in the UK, lowering the quality of food and jeopardise farmers’ livelihoods
Undermine public services – threatening the NHS
Give more power to big tech companies to use and abuse our data
Move Britain closer to a US-style system of deregulation that would make it harder to work closely with the EU
The British people did not vote in the EU referendum to become second-class citizens of corporatisation through trade deals like TPP or allow Britain to become the 51st State of America having been forced to accept their appalling standards in everything from lipstick with currently banned chemicals to food quality that will add over £1billion to the struggling NHS bill to combat severely increased food poisoning.
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