News & press releases

Trade Bill and Amendment NC3

July 30, 2018

The Cross-Border Trade Bill exposed the massive divisions in the Conservative Party this month with both hard Brexiteers and Remainers tabling amendments to the Bill in the hope of forcing policy changes.

At the 11th hour the Government made concessions to Labour strengthening the role of the Trade Remedies Authority, introducing sunset clauses for delegated powers and giving Parliament a vote on the raising or lowering of import duty, excise duty or the raising of VAT. However, these concessions were late in the day and did not go far enough to address the huge list of concerns Labour has with the Bill. I was also very frustrated that New Clause 18 was rejected by 6 votes, which would have seen the government obliged to participate in a customs union if a free trade agreement had not been reached by January 2019.

A number of constituents contacted me before the Trade Bill was debated in the House of Commons, asking me to support New Clause 3 ‘Free trade agreements: Parliamentary scrutiny and consent’.

I was pleased to vote in support of this new clause, along with my Labour colleagues. Unfortunately, the new clause was rejected by 30 votes, with the Tories voting against this important amendment. This new clause would have forced the Government to give parliament the power to scrutinise and vote on new trade deals after we leave the EU. Although the Government has said it will consider the impact of new trade deals on the environment or human rights, they are under no obligation to do this, and parliament will not have the opportunity to act on any concerns raised.