International Trade: Questions on Trade Negotiators

 

3nov

Yesterday I pressed the Government further on their lack of preparation for the immensely complex set of negotiations that lie ahead if Britain is to exit the European Union:

Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab)

What discussions he has had with the Leader of the House on Parliament debating and voting on the outcome of trade negotiations before they are signed. [907065]

The Minister for Trade and Investment (Greg Hands)

As the hon. Lady will know, I am a great advocate of parliamentary scrutiny. The Department for International Trade is currently working to shape a more independent UK trade policy. Once we begin to negotiate trade agreements, Parliament will, of course, play its crucial role in ensuring that we deliver on our commitment to secure the best possible negotiation outcome for the whole of the UK.

Thangam Debbonaire

Trade agreements need at least 50 negotiators per bilateral. The former Brexit Minister, the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin), said in July that the UK has “no trade negotiators”. The Minister of State himself said last month that the number has “doubled since June”. Zero doubled is still zero. Will the Minister come clean? Exactly how many trade negotiators do we have?

Greg Hands

I think the hon. Lady is conflating and confusing two different statistics relating to those working on trade policy and those working on trade negotiations. The answer that I gave in the written answer is correct: the number of people working on trade policy in the Department has doubled since the Department’s creation in July.



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