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UK MPs must get a say on post-Brexit trade deals — or everyone suffers

U.K. Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry warns of MPs getting cut out of a say in future trade deals | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Opinion

UK MPs must get a say on post-Brexit trade deals — or everyone suffers

Draft bill deprives MPs of any say — let alone a final vote — on the content of future trade deals.

By

7/20/20, 4:01 AM CET

Emily Thornberry is a British Labour MP and the shadow international trade secretary.

It’s not easy to rebel against your own party.

At the very least, you need a thick skin for the abuse you’ll get from the whips, as well as a cavalier approach to your own career prospects.

In the current climate, Conservative MPs have even more to fear, with so many in the past year having lost the whip and ultimately lost their seats for stepping out of line on the wrong issue.

To rebel in those circumstances requires MPs with guts and grit, but above all, a good measure of principle.

It is a tough pill for the government to ask its MPs to swallow.

The kind of individuals who, when whipped to vote against their convictions and the interests of their constituents, will ask themselves: “What am I in this for?” — especially when the damage cannot be undone.

Many of them will be asking that question Monday evening, when the government’s post-Brexit Trade Bill returns for its final stages in the House of Commons.

This is the legislation that — after four decades — enables us once again to manage our own trade policy and ratify our own independent trade agreements.

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