The Daily Telegraph - Business
City grandees to help MPs examine Brexit trade deals
BUSINESS leaders and MPs have joined forces to create a body that will examine UK-EU trading relations and British trade deals with the rest of the world, as officials ramp up talks aimed at resolving issues with the Northern Ireland protocol.
The cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission, which launched yesterday, is co-convened by Labour MP Hilary Benn and Virgin chairman Peter Norris.
It will aim to provide “independent scrutiny” of UK trade deals, taking evidence from expert witnesses and the public in the style of a parliamentary select committee.
The commission said it will “hear from a broad range of voices representing the different sectors of the UK economy, from financial services to manufacturing, and from across the political spectrum”.
Its establishment follows the closure of the Home of Commons Committee of the Future Relationship with the European Union, chaired by Mr Benn, which was disbanded at the start of the year.
Trade between the UK and EU buckled in January, with exports to the EU plunging 40pc, and imports falling 29pc – the biggest slumps on record.
Figures for February, set for release today, are expected to show a recovery, but experts warn it may take longer for the full impact of Brexit on commerce with the bloc to become clear.
The group is supported by Best for Britain, the anti-Brexit group that campaigned for a second referendum on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Best for Britain drew criticism during 2019’s general election campaign for launching a tactical voting website that recommended pro-remain voters back the Liberal Democrats in some constituencies where Labour held only a small lead over the Conservatives.
Mr Benn told the Financial Times the body would be different to the select committee he formerly led, saying it would have a “practical focus” on the problems facing businesses.