Ensuring trade democracy

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As you would expect, Brexit is a concern for residents of Walthamstow, where more than 59% voted to remain. I believe Brexit will create more problems for the UK, one of which will be the impact of any trade deals we negotiate after leaving.

I’ve received emails asking me to support:

  • Impact assessments on all new trade deals so we know how they will affect people and planet.
  • Parliament to debate and vote on any new deal.

I share the concerns of residents over secretive trade deals, which is why I’ve campaigned against TTIP and CETA in the past. I absolutely support impact assessments on any future trade deals and agree that these must be debated and voted on by parliament.

The Political Declaration to leave the EU repeatedly refers to an “Independent Trade Policy”, signalling a strong desire to establish a trade deal with the US, and Boris Johnson’s desperation to do so leaves the US in a strong position to force weakened standards upon the UK. I have particular concerns about the impact such a deal could have on food safety, animal welfare, environmental standards and the ability of UK farmers to export to the EU.

The US is clear that it considers nutrition labelling a ‘barrier to trade’, and is in dispute with the EU about this. Weakening labelling would likely be part of any trade deal leaving consumers unable to make an informed choice about the origin of their food.

In the US, 88% of corn and 93% of soy are genetically modified (GM) and products containing GM ingredients are commonly sold. In the EU, GM is widely rejected due to concerns over its safety and purported benefits. A US trade deal could increase the likelihood that GM products are sold in the UK.

The consequences of a US-UK trade deal are serious for public health and animal welfare. American farming methods produce food more likely to make people ill. This along with health risks of heavily processed food means that the proposed trade deal could cost lives.

A leaked report produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was very concerning:

In particular, agreeing to the US asks could severely limit our ability to negotiate an agreement with the EU . . . EU concerns about the risk of non-compliant goods entering its territory would for instance be heightened if the UK acceded to US demands on chlorine-washed chicken.

– Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UK farmers would be hit twice under such a deal. Unable to compete with food produced to lower standards in America but not allowed to export to the EU who would want to protect their standards.

Should the UK fall out of the EU on 31st January 2020 or at the end of a transition period where the UK and EU fail to agree on terms for a future relationship can we trust free-trade fanatics in the government not to see this as an opportunity for a bonfire of safeguards and of environmental and consumer protections?

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