Julian votes against government again on parliamentary control of trade agreements
January 20, 2021
During yesterday’s debate on amendments to the Trade Bill made by the House of Lords, Julian voted against the government in favour of retaining a Lords amendment that would have guaranteed both Houses of Parliament a clear vote at the beginning and end of a trade deal negotiation.
The regaining of full control over trade from the EU is one of the largest changes of the Brexit process, and the Bill provides government with the tools to run an independent trade policy.
While any changes to British law as a result of deals must pass through Parliament as usual, and MPs technically have the power to block ratification, there is currently no clear requirement for a ‘yes/no’ vote on trade agreements, and government can agree to ratify independent of MPs.
Julian has previously joined with a number of other MPs in pushing hard for stronger powers for Parliament to decide on signing trade deals, voting against the government in July 2020 in support of a near-identical amendment to the Trade Bill requiring both Houses of Parliament to approve draft negotiating objectives and the text of trade agreements pre-ratification.
He also questioned Trade Ministers in the House of Commons last Thursday on strengthening parliamentary scrutiny provisions in the Bill, and signed a joint-letter to the International Trade Secretary on Monday making the same argument.
After the vote, Julian said: “Having received no satisfactory response to my repeated lobbying of Ministers on this, I felt obliged to join with 10 other Conservative colleagues and repeat my vote last July for future trade negotiations to be ‘top and tailed’ with a clear parliamentary vote.
I hope this will embolden the Lords to re-amend the Bill when it returns to them to insist on a beefing up of parliamentary control procedures, and that we can manoeuvre the government towards accepting a compromise solution.
I know many constituents have a serious interest in the future shape of trade policy given the potential economic impact of trade agreements, and robust parliamentary scrutiny is the best way to maintain our high goods standards, and maximise economic opportunities outside the EU.”