Phil Fletcher Slams UK Government on Trade Agreement

15 February 2017

Phil Fletcher criticised the UK Government today particularly on agricultural policy.  The Green Party issued a joint statement following the CETA vote which was overshadowed by the visit of the Canadian Premier to address the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.  Enthralled by the liberal guest Labour and Socialists politicians were split on the trade issue.

Speaking out on Twitter in advance of the EU Parliament's vote on CETA, Phil Fletcher called out the fact that, "Why are there no UK anchored in ? As there has been no publicity in the UK on , then how can the UK know about this?" He then described the deal in no uncertain terms and posted a photo of a sheep to illustrate his point.  The tweets were tagged with the MEPs who were wavering on whether they would vote for, against, or abstain, from all other parties.  Only our Green Party MEPs have been speaking up about trade deals which are pushed by the UK as a parting gift to the EU.  A satirical TV show was also tagged in the message.

Earlier, Phil joined local campaigners meeting with his local MP, Theresa Villiers, to discuss the reality of trade deals negotiated in secret.

Green MEPs are warning that Brexit will not free the UK from toxic trade deals as the European Parliament votes to green-light CETA, the controversial EU-Canada trade deal [1].

The deal, which has been long opposed by trade justice campaigners, trade unions, European Green Parties and millions of citizens in the EU and Canada, was voted through by a majority of MEPs during a plenary session in Strasbourg today.

Greens/EFA MEPs were among the only UK representatives to vote against the deal. Conservative and Lib Dem MEPs are expected to have voted to support CETA* with a number of Labour MEPs expected to have joined them* [2] despite pressure from trade unions [3], the Shadow Minister for International Trade [4], and even the Party’s own Head of Trade Policy [5].

Opposition to CETA has focused primarily on the provision to allow multinational corporations to sue democratically elected governments in ‘extrajudicial’ and ‘secretive’ courts if they feel their financial interests are threatened by any policies enacted by those governments [6].

Greens have also argued that the trade deal will be bad for workers’ rights, climate action, animal welfare, and chemical and product safety.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London and a member of the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs committee, said:

“To believe that CETA will bring more and better jobs to those who need them is pure wishful thinking. Research shows this proposed trade agreement is more likely to continue widening the gap between low and high-paid workers and offers no safeguards for existing labour standards. Many trade unions oppose CETA and so did the European Parliament’s Employment Committee, of which I’m a member. We need to invest in quality jobs, not widening the gaps.

“There are many other problems too, which is why Green MEPs highlighted 12 Reasons to oppose CETA [7], and why we voted against it today in the European Parliament. It’s extremely regrettable that a majority of MEPs didn’t heed our concerns, and have instead today voted for CETA to go ahead. It’s now up to national parliaments across Europe to take action to block this damaging deal.”

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East and a member of the European Parliament’s Environment committee, said:

“CETA is a bad deal for the people of Britain, Europe, and even Canada, but a great deal for multinational corporations keen to escape the democratic oversight of national parliaments. It is little wonder that it is citizens across Europe and in North America that are the loudest and more determined opponents of this toxic trade deal.

“Canada has a long track record of taking legal action against European countries’ environmental laws and is fundamentally opposed to high chemical and pesticide safety legislation. Canada is also home to more than half of the world’s mining companies and pursues an active policy of exporting fuels derived from highly polluting tar sands. In that context, it is extremely worrying that CETA’s ‘commitments’ on environmental standards remain unenforceable. Greens will continue to oppose any agreements that lock us into fossil fuel dependence and damage our climate goals.”

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West and the Green Party’s Brexit Spokesperson, drew attention to divisions within Labour, an issue she highlighted in a News Statesman article today [8]. She said

“With trade, as with Brexit, Labour are exposing how weak they are as an opposition. The Party is hopelessly split between backing the citizens of Europe and caving into corporate power.

“Their long-time Trade coordinator in the European Parliament, David Martin, has been a forceful supporter of CETA and has strenuously opposed the Greens for their opposition to the anti-democratic aspects of this treaty. No wonder their shadow trade minister can only persuade half his MPs to vote against this toxic deal.

“The weakness of socialists across Europe to protect citizens against the worst aspects of corporate globalisation is driving people towards the forces of the Right, thereby fanning the flames of fascism.”

 

ENDS

Notes to Editors: PGIs are Geographic Indicators such as Champagne, Cornish Pasties, or Hihgland sheep from the lake district.

[1] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/plenary/video?date=15-02-2017
[2] 408 MEPs voted for CETA, 254 against, 33 abstained.
[3] https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/news/83179/excl-fresh-labour-turmoil-barry-gardiner-tries
[4] https://energydesk.greenpeace.org/2017/02/14/ceta-vote-labour-union-letter/
[5] https://twitter.com/jhilary/status/831423962324283393
[6] The so-called Investment Court System gives corporations the power to bring cases against nations in a ‘secretive’ and ‘extrajudicial’ courthttps://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/resources/2nd_edition_ceta_briefing_2016.pdf
[7] http://ttip2016.eu/blog/id-12-reasons-the-greenefa-group-are-opposed-to-ceta.html
[8] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/02/brexit-britain-should-beware-trade-policies-justin-trudeau

* Roll Call Vote results will be published within the next few hours.