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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Conservative Party Candidate for York Outer
Any reference to Julian Sturdy being a Member of Parliament on this website predates the dissolution of Parliament and the 2024 General Election campaign

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Julian votes against government on parliamentary scrutiny of trade agreements

July 21, 2020

During yesterday’s debate on the Trade Bill, Julian voted against the government line, supporting an amendment to strengthen procedures for Parliament to scrutinise trade agreements negotiated by the government.

The Trade Bill is an important consequence of the Brexit process, giving the UK government the tools to run an independent trade policy and sign trade agreements. These matters have largely been decided at European level for the period of EU membership, and the return of these powers is one of the most obvious structural changes that comes from leaving the EU.

Julian put his name to and voted for the amendment new clause 4, proposed by his Conservative colleague Jonathan Djanogly, requiring both Houses of Parliament to approve the draft negotiating objectives before talks on a trade deal can commence, and the text of a trade agreement before the government can sign it.

The government is committed to providing extensive opportunities for Parliament to scrutinise trade talks, and have emphasised that any changes to UK law as a result of a trade agreement could only take place with parliamentary approval. However, given the scale of the change to an independent British trade policy, and the importance of ensuring elected representatives can keep a close watch on proposals of such great economic significance, Julian alongside 10 other Conservative colleagues felt it was necessary to press Ministers to make a clear legal commitment now, to guarantee parliamentary involvement at all stages of the trade talks process.

After the vote, Julian said:

Although the amendment was defeated, I think this polite rebellion by 11 Conservatives sent a firm message that the government must make good on its commitment to extensive parliamentary scrutiny of future trade agreements.

I believe Trade Ministers are completely sincere in their proposals to carefully consult Parliament, but given the complexity of trade talks, I think it would be very reassuring for MPs and the general public to have a clear procedure to seek Parliament’s consent at both ends of a negotiation written into law.

The public rightly want to know that their representatives are able to make sure that trade deals maintain our country’s high product standards, and maximise global opportunities for British exports, and I will continue to press the government to be as transparent and democratic as possible as they frame our new independent trade policy.”