The Government has introduced a Trade Bill which they claim would to allow the UK to pursue an independent trade policy if we leave the European Union. In my opinion leaving the European Union will be very damaging for our economy, and it could take several years to negotiate trade deals which may be inferior to what we have now.
However, I am concerned that the Government's approach, as set out in the Trade Bill and in a White Paper published in October, gives little acknowledgement of the need for due process in Parliament and no clarity on how trade deals will be scrutinised.
In addition to a debate and vote on future agreements, we need a new House of Commons committee with the power to scrutinise treaties before the Government agrees to them. MPs should have the power to debate, amend and approve mandates before negotiations start; negotiations should be informed by an impact assessment of any potential deal; and MPs should have access to negotiating texts as they are formulated.
At the June 2017 General Election, the Labour manifesto promised to ensure proper transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of all future trade and investment deals. I will continue to press the Government on this issue.