MPs demand 'meaningful' vote on all trade deals after Brexit

Alex Daniel
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The government should be forced to 'justify its decisions to withhold information' when negotiating deals, the International Trade committee has said (Source: Getty)

MPs have called for the power to veto any trade deals negotiated by the government after Britain leaves the EU.

In a move likely to be rejected by a government which has already pushed the so-called meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal back a month to mid-January, the influential International Trade Committee has demanded MPs have a “meaningful parliamentary vote” on every deal struck after Brexit.

The committee has claimed parliament, devolved government, business and civil society should all play a role in negotiating deals, adding government should “expand its means of consultation with business and civil society”.

“We have seen what happens when the public and parliament are deliberately kept in the dark over trade negotiations,” said committee chair Angus Brendan MacNeil, a Scottish National Party MP.

“It [the government] should guarantee parliament a vote on the ratification of trade deals and give our Committee the tools we need to oversee and scrutinise negotiations as they progress,” he said.

“If the proper processes and protections are not put in place from the outset, the Government may fail to realise the UK-wide post-Brexit benefits it has gone to such lengths to promote.”

In a report, the committee proposes guidelines for the government to follow in negotiating trade deals after Brexit.

While it accepts trade deals are “the prerogative of government,” it demands a “meaningful role” throughout their negotiation for parliament.

It also demands trade policy be “open and inclusive,” representing stakeholder groups from across all nations in the UK.

The government should be forced to “justify its decisions to withhold information” when negotiating deals, so as to “operate from a presumption of transparency”, it adds.