My amendment on the Trade Bill was debated this week, with support from Labour and Lib Dems. It contains the current protections for the standards we have. But the Government seems reluctant to accept it, even though the Prime Minister herself has said that she doesn’t want to weaken existing standards in future trade agreements. At the moment it would be possible for Ministers to use statutory instruments to change the rules on this, but my amendment would guarantee these minimum standards were kept for rolling over all the trade deals that we currently have as a result of EU membership.
It’s a crucial political decision as the right wing freemarket types in the conservative party don’t want their hands tied. My amendment protects the environment, animal welfare and workers’ rights.
Negotations will continue with the government between now and the 20th March when the Third Reading of the Trade Bill is due. It was looking hopeful when I last met the Minister in the Lords but the government have now riased two technical issues with the amendment. I’m hopeful that with the backing of Labour and Lib Dems we can reach a common sense concensus on an acceptable form of words.