UK Trade and Business Commission keeping track of the
effects of Brexit.
From a fact-finding trip to Dover
to prompt responses to the Government’s antics on the Northern Ireland
Protocol, the Commission has been scoping out the key threats and
challenges to UK trade, and to British consumers.
British people are facing a
cost of living crisis that could be made worse by the Government
starting a trade war with our closest neighbours. People in Northern
Ireland face an uncertain future as the Government postures about
breaking international law and destabilising the Good Friday
As secretariat to the
Commission, Best for Britain is responsible for ensuring that the
Commission’s activities run smoothly and have impact - and part of our
role also involves making sure that we’re singing loudly and proudly
about the excellent work the Commission does.
Commission Co-convenor Hilary
Benn MP, TD for Dublin Rathdown Neale Richmond and former Lord
Chancellor and Justice Secretary David Gauke joined Best for Britain’s
CEO Naomi Smith to discuss the Government’s intentions for NI
The discussion took place just
hours before Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced her plans to pass a
new law that allows her to break international law and take the UK out
of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Panellists all agreed there are
problematic aspects of the Protocol that need to be ironed out.
However, as Hilary Benn noted, the problems with the UK threatening
unilateral action where international law is concerned are far graver.
How will any other country (or the EU in future) trust us to keep to
Neale Richmond made the point
that the EU’s stringent attitude towards trade between Great Britain
and Northern Ireland was understandable because of the new trade deals
the UK is currently forging, which could lead to an influx of goods of
a lower standard making their way into the single market if the flow
is not checked.
David Gauke also highlighted
that problems were compounded by the UK’s reputation in Europe - and
that the EU might have reservations because it was not always easy to
trust in the honesty of the UK Government.
So as the panellists made
clear, issues cannot be solved by one side alone - and consensus is
absolutely crucial. It is vital that the UK works to find a negotiated
solution rather than threatening to break international
Watch the full session
Responses from the Commission
The Commission, of course, did
not just end its work there. During Truss’s statement to the Commons
on the protocol, Commission members responded to her words in the
Hilary Benn MP, Co-convenor of
the Commission, asked the Foreign Secretary why she believed that
making unilateral changes to an internationally agreed treaty would be
a productive step forward. He cautioned that such a move could
undermine trust further and even result in trade retaliation. Hilary
also wrote an insightful thread for Twitter about the issue which
captures the nuance of the issues at stake. You can read that
Caroline Lucas MP, who is also
a member of the UK Trade and Business Commission, weighed in on
Truss’s speech in Parliament, pressing her on why she was setting the
stage for a trade war with Europe at a time of exponential price rises
for consumers. She also urged Truss to meet with the Commission,
something Truss indicated she was open to doing.
You can watch Caroline’s speech
in Parliament here.
Dover and out
On Monday, the UK Trade and
Business Commission embarked upon a fact-finding visit to Dover, where
they visited a farm and the port to establish the impacts of
We’ll have an in-depth look at
the trip for you next week, but safe to say Commissioners came away
with a deeper understanding of the complexities of cross-border trade
and the impacts businesses face.
That’s all from us this week,
but stay tuned next week for more detail on the Commission’s trip to
CEO, Best for Britain