Warnings UK parliamentary sovereignty slipping away as Liam Fox refuses Ceta debate

International trade secretary renegades on promise to subject controversial Canadian trade deal to parliamentary and public scrutiny

TRADE JUSTICE campaigners have warned that UK international trade minister Liam Fox is compromising the UK’s parliamentary and economic sovereignty by reneging on commitments to bring controversial trade deals before the parliament.

Fox, a leading Brexiteer who is tasked with reconstructing the UK’s trade deals in preparation for the UK’s exit from the EU and the European single market, had promised a debate on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Area (Ceta) in October. The Ceta deal will give Canadian and EU corporations sweeping powers to ignore business, environmental and labour standards and undermine the sovereignty of the states involved.

“As a prominent advocate of Brexit, Liam Fox has repeatedly extolled the virtues of our parliamentary sovereignty, but here he is thrusting us into an EU trade deal that would dramatically curtail our law makers from legislating to the benefit of ordinary people in the UK.” Nick Dearden Global Justice Now

Under questioning at the Westminster international trade committee by SNP MP Angus MacNeil, Fox admitted that he no longer envisioned a parliamentary debate, and that Ceta could be discussed at committee level before the UK makes representations at an EU debate on the trade deal on 15 February.

Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now (GJN) said: “Over three months ago Liam Fox was criticised by a parliamentary committee over the lack of debate on this controversial and far-reaching trade deal between the EU and Canada. And Liam Fox was at pains to assure the committee that this debate would take place. It’s disgraceful and disingenuous that Fox is now trying to bypass a thorough parliamentary process that he had committed to in order to avoid more rigorous scrutiny of a trade deal that would threaten public services, labour rights and consumer standards in the UK.

“As a prominent advocate of Brexit, Liam Fox has repeatedly extolled the virtues of our parliamentary sovereignty, but here he is thrusting us into an EU trade deal that would dramatically curtail our law makers from legislating to the benefit of ordinary people in the UK.”

During at a meeting of the committee on Wednesday (1 February) Fox rejected concerns over greater involvement from US corporations in the NHS as part of the UK’s increasingly close relationship with the US and the new administration headed by President Donald Trump.

Fox said that claims of future increased foreign involvement in the NHS through new trade arrangements were “on a par with alligators in the sewers as a myth”, as such agreements would maintain continued government control of public services.

The UK will be increasingly reliant on new trade deals with global powers after the UK exits from the European single market.

Picture courtesy of Chatham House

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