Following last week’s article in the Royston Crow reporting on our campaign to oppose the UK-US trade deal, this week our letter (see below) was published expressing no confidence in government assurances on protecting the NHS or maintaining food, animal welfare and environmental standards.
The closing paragraph of a news update published by the Department for International Trade, 14/12/2020, reads:-
“Any deal the UK Government agrees will be fair and balanced and in the best interests of the whole of the UK. As we will in all negotiations, we remain committed to upholding our high environmental, labour, product and food safety, and animal welfare standards in our trade agreement with Australia, as well as protecting the National Health Service (NHS).”
That being so, why did the government not support amendments to the Trade Bill which would have upheld those high standards and protected the NHS?
Robert Jenrick’s unwillingness to overturn Cumbia County Councils’ decision to permit the development of Woodhouse Colliery speaks volumes for the government’s commitment to the Climate Crisis and maintaining high environmental standards.
In a post-Brexit review, Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary was all set to trash current employment protections but made a well-judged, hasty U-turn, presumably as a result of the outcry from Labour and the unions.
The above demonstrates both the need and the value of continuing to hold the government’s feet to fire over assurances like the one above and of doubling down on our campaign to safeguard standards and the NHS in any trade deal but particularly, the future UK-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Our letter below as published in the Royston Crow, 28th January 2021
US trade deal threat
Your article on campaigners opposed to a future trade deal with the United States, prompted some interesting responses from local MPs. The government defeated amendments to the Trade Bill which would have allayed many of the fears expressed in our open letter, fears so glibly dismissed by Sir Oliver Heald and Bim Afolami. Negotiations with the US are already far advanced, so it is appropriate to ask why the government has opposed moves to:
● guarantee MPs proper scrutiny of, and a vote on trade deals
● protect the NHS and food, animal welfare and environmental standards
● prevent trade deals with countries engaged in serious human rights violations?
It is absolutely clear that the UK public do not want the NHS on the table, nor do they want standards of food, animal welfare and the environment to be traded away. On the other hand, US negotiators expect unfettered access to UK markets in both health and agriculture but by the government’s own assessment, a trade deal with the US might lead to only 0.07% – 0.16% economic growth by the middle of the next decade. The UK already trades extensively with the US and the additional benefits of a trade deal are far from obvious.
Given this government’s track record of hurried U-turns, missteps and broken manifesto pledges, we have no confidence in their assurances. In reality Parliament does not have a veto nor do MPs have the opportunity to properly scrutinise future trade deals.
We remain convinced that a US trade deal risks further privatisation of the NHS and a significant degradation of food, animal welfare and environmental standards.
Global Justice Now Herts & Beds