The Government’s Trade Bill has left MPs with less power to scrutinise trade deals and protect farmers than UK MEPs had in the EU, says Tim Farron, agriculture spokesman for the Liberal Democrats.
Last month, I was proud to join colleagues from across the House in voting to protect our world-class environmental and agricultural standards.
During the third reading of the Trade Bill, Liberal Democrats voted in favour of amendments which would preserve food and farming standards in trade deals and grant Parliamentary approval before a trade deal could be signed.
Sadly, it seems too many Conservative MPs were prepared to put party loyalties ahead of the country, choosing to vote down these amendments and thereby selling our farmers down the river.
We won’t let them forget this.
Unamended, the Trade Bill gives the Government total freedom to make whatever trade deal they like, with whomever they like, with no accountability.
The passage of this Bill means MPs are denied scrutiny of the UK’s future trade deals, leaving them with less power to agree trade deals than MEPs had within the EU.
Equally, there is no mention of any national priorities for the basis of a future trade deal, when climate requirements or employment and animal welfare standards should be at the forefront of any negotiation.
So how are we going to ensure our standards are protected as we leave the European Union?
Earlier this summer, following an impressive campaign from the NFU which garnered over one million public pledges of support, the Government conceded and agreed to set up a Trade and Agriculture Commission.
However, the Government’s announcement contained no details about how this new commission will operate or how Parliament will be able to properly scrutinise any new trade deals and the effects they will have on our world-class food, animal welfare and environmental standards.
This new body must be a watchdog with teeth that will prevent the Conservatives undermining British farmers, instead of a lapdog that provides cover for the Tories to sell us out in future trade deals.
As Parliament returns next month, the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to hold Boris Johnson’s Government to account to safeguard our high environmental, labour and food standards post-Brexit.
Tim can be found tweeting at @timfarron