Has everybody already forgotten the aborted ‘TTIP’ (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) deal that would have forced the UK into accepting goods of the lowest standard provided by the US or any country in the EU?
Have we forgotten that the TTIP deal was controversial because it included a so-called ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ system that would have penalised nation states if they made political decisions that could harm the profitability of corporations, who would be freed, effectively to prey on any and all citizens of those nation states?
Britons campaigned vehemently against this system, and the wider deal, because we realised that the Conservative, and Tory-led governments in the UK from 2010 onwards wanted to use it to seal privatisation into the National Health Service.
Once a part of the NHS has been privatised, under the terms of the international trade deal, the UK would not have been able to re-nationalise it without paying huge amounts of compensation to the companies that had bought it.
And now Donald Trump wants a “very big, very powerful” trade deal, solely between the US and the UK. He wants to give American firms another chance to buy the NHS and keep it from ever becoming a solely public service again.
Consider what Mr Trump and Theresa May have been saying about their plans, and you’ll see that their words are very sinister indeed. They have been holding informal talks – in secret – in order to put a deal together as soon as possible after the UK leaves the European Union.
(Bear in mind that it was the EU that vetoed TTIP – David Cameron was UK Prime Minister at the time and he had been fully in support of it, and the NHS privatisation it symbolised.)
“We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal, a very powerful deal, great for both countries and I think we will have that done very, very quickly,” said Mr Trump, indicating that there will be no time for anybody to protest against the possibly draconian terms of the deal before it is signed.
And a ‘senior UK government source’ said that before Brexit happens, “every barrier will be lifted to so that when we are ready to go [into a trade agreement with the US] we can do that swiftly and smoothly”.
Now consider all the talk about a US trade deal being a “powerful vote of confidence” in Britain. Isn’t this just propaganda, softening us up so that any dissenting voices can be tarred as unpatriotic?
Look at the way Sir Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to Washington, said Mr Trump’s statement of intent was a “very good sign for the future” and would be “useful” to Mrs May.
The balancing comment in the BBC’s article, by Sir Simon Fraser, a former diplomat who served as a permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, had nothing to say about whether a deal would be harmful to the interests of UK citizens, but instead cast doubt on how soon any trade deal could be reached.
The Telegraph reported that a member of the British delegation at the G20 said: “We have taken very positive messages away from the meetings we have had here.”
Vox Political would urge all citizens of the UK to treat these warm words with extreme caution.
Talks so far have been in secret – we know nothing about them – just as we knew nothing about the TTIP talks until we demanded the information.
The plan is to enforce a deal very soon after the UK leaves the EU, meaning there will be no time to organise protest against any harmful measures – such as locking private companies into the NHS.
And it seems clear that the intention is to deny the British people any opportunity to contribute to the discussion.
Still, forewarned is forearmed. Let us all do everything we can to drag out the details of this deal.
Trade under good terms is welcome, remember. We need good trading deals. But the UK is in a very weak position at the moment, because of the decision to leave the EU. Other countries will be looking for opportunities to take advantage.
The Conservatives, who have sold our public utility services and railways to foreign countries, are happy to let them.
So it is up to us to defend what is ours.
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