The Shadow International Trade Secretary announced the move at the Trade Union’s Congress (TUC) conference yesterday, pledging to end what Labour calls the Conservative Government’s “corporate-centred approach” to trade. The proposed policy would be entirely rebuilt around protecting workers’ rights and interests both in the UK and abroad. Ms Thornberry announced that Parliament would be given a veto on negotiating objectives and a final deal for all future trade talks under a Labour government.
This would effectively strip the Government of control over negotiations and place trade talk policy in the hands of MPs for the first time.
The report also includes plans for a new law that would block trade deals with countries that many MPs say have committed serious abuses of workers and human rights, including China.
Ms Thornberry writes: “I truly believe that trade can be a global force for good, driving progress on climate change and international development, demanding respect for human rights and gender equality, and raising standards and prosperity throughout the world.
“But we must start with a trade policy that will create decent, well-paid jobs here at home, raise standards around the world, and ensure every trade deal the UK signs is used to protect, promote and enforce the rights of workers, wherever they may live.
“The government may be wasting the opportunity they have been given to re-shape our trade policy as a force for good and an example to the world, but this document shows that Labour is ready to fill that void and show what is possible instead.”
The Labour report goes on to claim that Boris Johnson’s failure to take the issue of workers’ rights seriously has damaged its chance of securing a trade deal with the United States.
It states: “Boris Johnson’s Government appears not to realise that their deliberate dismissal of workers’ interests and rights in relation to trade puts them firmly at odds with the only country that can realistically help them reach their manifesto commitment to cover 80 percent of the UK’s trade with free trade agreements by the end of 2022.”