Trade

Boris Johnson’s new Brexit bill scraps powers for MPs to scrutinise future trade deals

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Boris Johnson has scrapped powers for MPs to scrutinise future trade deals after Brexit amid the UK could be forced to accept lower standards as a price for a trade agreement with the US. 

The new Brexit deal, which was published on Thursday, has been stripped of a clause which would have given MPs oversight of negotiations for trade agreements once the UK leaves the EU next month.

MPs will vote on the new EU withdrawal agreement bill on Friday, which has been redrafted by Downing Street to rule out extending the transition period beyond December 2020.

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The new legal deadline increases the risk of a no-deal Brexit, as it leaves the prime minister only 11 months to negotiate a trade deal with Brussels or risk crashing out without a deal.

Mr Johnson’s new Brexit bill also drops Theresa May’s commitments to maintaining workers rights, with the government due to table a separate employment bill in the New Year.

The move sparked concerns that parliament had been shut out of crucial next stage of the Brexit process, when the UK would be free to strike its own trade deals for the first time in decades.

Lisa Nandy, who is regarded as a possible future Labour leader, sounded the alarm over how the new Brexit plan had been altered for the worse.

“The trade deal process will now be conducted in secret, with the EU parliament having more power and scrutiny than British MPs,” she warned.

“What happened to taking back control?”

Trade is likely to become the next big political battleground as Brexiteers will be gunning for a lucrative US trade deal once the UK leaves the EU at the end of January.

But the US has indicated it will have aggressive demands, such as the right to sell chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-pumped beef and to ramp up the cost of medicines.

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General election 2019: How the night unfolded

1/27 Boris Johnson wins biggest Tory landslide since Thatcher

…while Labour records worst result since Clement Attlee

2/27 11.28pm – First result to be announced

Labour holds Newcastle Central, albeit with a reduced majority, in the first result to be announced in the 2019 General Election

3/27 11.33pm – Conservatives gain Blyth Valley

The Conservatives gain Blyth Valley, in the North East, from Labour in the first big upset of the night. The seat had been held by Labour since 1950

4/27 1.23am – Conservatives succeed in appealing to “Workington Man”

The Tories won the North West constituency from Labour – the first time the seat has changed hands since 1979

5/27 1.27am – The SNP gains Rutherglen & Hamilton West from Labour, the first of six seats they take from Jeremy Corbyn’s party

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, takes a selfie with some her newly elected MP’s at the Glasgow count

6/27 1.50am – The Tories gain Wrexham from Labour

The first time the party have ever held the seat

7/27 1.52am – Labour wins Putney from the Conservatives

The party’s first gain of the night from the Tories

8/27 1.55am – The SNP gains its first seat from the Tories

Winning Angus

9/27 2.33am – Iain Duncan Smith holds on to seat

The former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith held on to his Chingford & Woodford Green seat, but saw his majority cut almost in half to just 1,262

10/27 2.46am – Conservatives gain Tom Watson’s old seat

The Tories gained West Bromwich West from Labour in an 11.69% swing

11/27 2.50am – Bishop Auckland, a Labour seat since 1935, becomes a Tory gain

Dehenna Davison won with a majority of 7,962

12/27 2.54am – Chuka Umunna loses out to Tories

The former Streatham MP who defected from Labour to the Independent Group before switching to the Liberal Democrats, lost out to the Conservative party in Cities of London & Westminster

13/27 2.58am – DUP’s Westminster leader beaten

Nigel Dodds was beaten by Sinn Fein’s John Finucane in Belfast North

14/27 3.15am – Tories lose seat to the Lib Dems

Zac Goldsmith lost his Richmond Park seat to the Liberal Democrats, the party’s first gain of the night

15/27 3.24am – Jeremy Corbyn announces he will not lead party in future elections

The Labour leader was voted back in to the Islington North seat but described the results as “very disappointing” and said he would not lead the party in any future election campaign

16/27 3.32am – Labour’s Caroline Flint loses her seat to the Tories

The first time her party has not held the seat since 1922

17/27 3.38am – The Tories beat Labour in Wakefield

Mary Creagh losT out to Imran Ahmad-Khan in a Labour seat since 1932

18/27 3.42am – Boris extendis his majority in Uxbridge & Ruislip South

The Prime Minister said: “It does look as though this One Nation Conservative Government has been given a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done.”

19/27 3.44am – The Tories gain Rother Valley and Sedgefield

3.44am – The Conservatives gained Rother Valley, a Labour seat since 1918, and Sedgefield, which was once held by former prime minister Tony Blair

20/27 3.45am – Jo Swinson loses seat

The Liberal Democrat leader lost her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP

21/27 4.25am – Conservatives retake Kensington from Labour

The Tories took back the seat with a margin of 150 votes

22/27 5.15am – Major scalp for the Tories

5.15am – Dennis Skinner, Labour’s Beast Of Bolsover loses his seat that had been red since 1950

23/27 6.08am – US President Donald Trump congratulates Boris Johnson on his victory

24/27 How the UK voted after 649 0f 650 seats

25/27 6.23am – Acting Lib Dem leaders announced

6.23am – Sir Ed Davey and Baroness Sal Brinton were announced as the joint acting leaders of the Liberal Democrats following Jo Swinson’s defeat
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds arrive back at Downing Street

1/27 Boris Johnson wins biggest Tory landslide since Thatcher

…while Labour records worst result since Clement Attlee

2/27 11.28pm – First result to be announced

Labour holds Newcastle Central, albeit with a reduced majority, in the first result to be announced in the 2019 General Election

3/27 11.33pm – Conservatives gain Blyth Valley

The Conservatives gain Blyth Valley, in the North East, from Labour in the first big upset of the night. The seat had been held by Labour since 1950

4/27 1.23am – Conservatives succeed in appealing to “Workington Man”

The Tories won the North West constituency from Labour – the first time the seat has changed hands since 1979

5/27 1.27am – The SNP gains Rutherglen & Hamilton West from Labour, the first of six seats they take from Jeremy Corbyn’s party

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, takes a selfie with some her newly elected MP’s at the Glasgow count

6/27 1.50am – The Tories gain Wrexham from Labour

The first time the party have ever held the seat

7/27 1.52am – Labour wins Putney from the Conservatives

The party’s first gain of the night from the Tories

8/27 1.55am – The SNP gains its first seat from the Tories

Winning Angus

9/27 2.33am – Iain Duncan Smith holds on to seat

The former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith held on to his Chingford & Woodford Green seat, but saw his majority cut almost in half to just 1,262

10/27 2.46am – Conservatives gain Tom Watson’s old seat

The Tories gained West Bromwich West from Labour in an 11.69% swing

11/27 2.50am – Bishop Auckland, a Labour seat since 1935, becomes a Tory gain

Dehenna Davison won with a majority of 7,962

12/27 2.54am – Chuka Umunna loses out to Tories

The former Streatham MP who defected from Labour to the Independent Group before switching to the Liberal Democrats, lost out to the Conservative party in Cities of London & Westminster

13/27 2.58am – DUP’s Westminster leader beaten

Nigel Dodds was beaten by Sinn Fein’s John Finucane in Belfast North

14/27 3.15am – Tories lose seat to the Lib Dems

Zac Goldsmith lost his Richmond Park seat to the Liberal Democrats, the party’s first gain of the night

15/27 3.24am – Jeremy Corbyn announces he will not lead party in future elections

The Labour leader was voted back in to the Islington North seat but described the results as “very disappointing” and said he would not lead the party in any future election campaign

16/27 3.32am – Labour’s Caroline Flint loses her seat to the Tories

The first time her party has not held the seat since 1922

17/27 3.38am – The Tories beat Labour in Wakefield

Mary Creagh losT out to Imran Ahmad-Khan in a Labour seat since 1932

18/27 3.42am – Boris extendis his majority in Uxbridge & Ruislip South

The Prime Minister said: “It does look as though this One Nation Conservative Government has been given a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done.”

19/27 3.44am – The Tories gain Rother Valley and Sedgefield

3.44am – The Conservatives gained Rother Valley, a Labour seat since 1918, and Sedgefield, which was once held by former prime minister Tony Blair

20/27 3.45am – Jo Swinson loses seat

The Liberal Democrat leader lost her Dunbartonshire East seat to the SNP

21/27 4.25am – Conservatives retake Kensington from Labour

The Tories took back the seat with a margin of 150 votes

22/27 5.15am – Major scalp for the Tories

5.15am – Dennis Skinner, Labour’s Beast Of Bolsover loses his seat that had been red since 1950

23/27 6.08am – US President Donald Trump congratulates Boris Johnson on his victory

24/27 How the UK voted after 649 0f 650 seats

25/27 6.23am – Acting Lib Dem leaders announced

6.23am – Sir Ed Davey and Baroness Sal Brinton were announced as the joint acting leaders of the Liberal Democrats following Jo Swinson’s defeat
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds arrive back at Downing Street

Angus MacNeil, former chair of the Commons International Trade Committee, raised concerns about parliament’s lack of scrutiny on such agreements – and warned the prime minister against kicking the can down the road.

The SNP MP told The Independent: “Before the election parliament had Boris Johnson in a cage but now he has parliament in a cage.

“He may be giving himself an easier ride in parliament but this will just create problems down the line. These problems won’t go away, you will be left with flawed legislation.”

David Lawrence, senior political adviser at the Trade Justice Movement, said the UK lags far behind other countries when it comes to scrutiny of trade agreements.

“Post-Brexit trade deals have the potential to severely impact on all sorts of public policy areas, including environmental regulation, health services, food standards and workers’ rights,” he said.

“It is therefore essential that parliament is able to provide scrutiny and democratic accountability.

“Currently MPs have no guaranteed vote on trade agreements, such as one with the US. It is very disappointing that this is set to continue in the new EU withdrawal agreement bill, which could have been an opportunity to develop a democratic framework for trade policy.

“Boris Johnson is undermining democracy by denying MPs a vote on our most important future trading relationship.”

The withdrawal agreement bill, which implements the PM’s Brexit deal, received its first reading in the Commons on Thursday afternoon.

It will be debated at second reading on Friday before the Commons breaks for Christmas.

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