Lord Frost says parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals worse now then when in EU
The former Brexit negotiator has been a vocal advocate for the potential benefits of leaving the EU.
The ability for Parliament to shape and scrutinise trade deals is weaker now than when the UK was a member of the European Union, former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost has said.
The Conservative former cabinet minister, who has been a vocal advocate for the potential benefits of Brexit, said it was “a little strange” that Parliament’s ability to scrutinise and shape trade agreements is now “weaker”.
He was speaking in the House of Lords as peers debated the Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill’s second reading.
Lord Frost said: “I do think it is a little strange that after Brexit the degree of scrutiny, comment, ability to shape trade agreements that this Parliament in both of its Houses has, the ability to comment, and indeed the ability to vote on major trade agreements, is actually weaker than the country had when we were a member of the European Union.
“And obviously I supported, worked for, Brexit, and I don’t think that it is right that we have less ability to shape these things than we did when we were in the European Union.”
He added: “I do think we should look at that in the interests of democratic scrutiny and developing a trade policy that we can all buy into in the future.”
The Bill provides measures to ensure the UK will be compliant with international obligations when it accedes to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Lord Frost said: “Those who said the UK could never pursue an independent trade policy outside the EU I think have been proven wrong. With CPTPP accession we have got FTAs (free trade agreements) covering over 60% of our trade, goods and services.
“And the only reason we have not reached the 80% target is the reluctance of the US to do new trade agreements with anybody, not just with us.
“So this is a big success area.”
The sovereignty of Parliament and role of democratic scrutiny were major themes of the Brexit campaign, and as a minister Lord Frost said EU laws had previously been applied to the UK with “very limited genuine democratic scrutiny”.
As a minister, Lord Frost said in 2021: “Brexit was about democracy – it is a democratic project that is bringing politics back home.”