Following an exchange at International Trade questions today, during which Tom Brake sought assurances from the Secretary of State, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, that he would provide Parliamentarians with a progress report on the trade deals the UK wants to roll over – a report Fox has already provided to key businesses – Tom has accused Fox of misleading MPs.
Tom explained in a later Point of Order to the Deputy Speaker, that contrary to Liam Fox’s assertion that he had dealt with this issue ‘extensively’ in the International Trade Select Committee hearing the day before, Tom, having viewed the hour long session, could confirm that the Secretary of State had provided no guarantees about making this progress report available. Indeed no reference was made to this progress report at all.
Tom Brake said:
“It is clear that to save his embarrassment for the shocking lack of progress in rolling over these trade deals, Liam Fox has concocted a sham story about having dealt with the matter yesterday.
"He is clearly one of the people Donald Tusk had in mind when he referred to Brexiters who promoted Brexit, with no plan for delivering it!”
“This could be another case of a Government in contempt, by providing information to third parties, but refusing to provide it to MPs.”
In his Point of Order, Tom asked the Speaker how he could get the Secretary of State to correct the record and, more importantly, provide the information he was happy to share with business with Parliamentarians.
Tom has raised this issue with Ministers on a number of occasions, most recently in a letter dated 28th January 2019 (below).
The Rt Hon Liam Fox MP
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
Department for International Trade
King Charles Street
My Ref: TB94014/C(A
28 January 2019
I am writing to you regarding the UK’s future trade agreements if the UK leaves the EU.
Following the publication of an internal Whitehall memorandum which states that almost none of the 40 trade deals which were expected to be finalised by March 29th are in place, I am concerned that the commitment you made in October 2017, that at the second after midnight on March 29th 2019, the UK would have in place these 40 trade agreements will not be honoured.
Can you therefore please confirm how many trade deals, with which countries, the Government anticipates will not be rolled over immediately after the UK leaves the EU. Please can you also outline what assessment the Government has made of the impact this will have on the total value of UK exports. If this information is not available, then I urge you to conduct this assessment immediately and release the figures to Parliament.
I would also be grateful if you could outline which states have assented to their trade deals being rolled over after March 29th 2019, which haven’t and which have yet to confirm either way. Please can you clarify, respectively, whether these trade deals are the same as the ones currently held with the UK as a result of EU membership, or if they are more, or less comprehensive than the current agreement.
Furthermore, as well as FTA agreements, there are over 700 other trade-related treaties and mutual recognition agreements which must be rolled over. Please can you confirm when Parliament will be updated on the progress of these agreements.
Will your department, working with other government departments, also release figures for the impact WTO trading terms would have on sectors of UK industry, including the agricultural sector and automotive industry.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Liberal Democrat MP Carshalton and Wallington