This week in parliament: race for Tory leadership, NI Protocol Bill and other trade issues

Fri 22 Jul 2022
Posted by: Grace Thompson, Noelle McElhatton, Phil Adnett
Trade News

UK Parliament Update

In the week before parliament’s summer recess, there was a flurry of activity relating to international trade. Here, the IOE&IT’s Daily Update digs out the key points for the trading community.

1. Tory leadership election: scoring trade points

Two Conservative leadership contenders are left in the race for the role of prime minister, after trade minister Penny Mordaunt was eliminated on Wednesday (20 July).

Foreign secretary and former trade minister Liz Truss and former chancellor Rishi Sunak will now face a summer of hustings, as reported by The Times.

Conservative party members will cast their votes by 2 September, with the winner being declared on 5 September.

During their campaigns, both leadership contenders have referenced their experience with trade policy.

Liz Truss highlighted her record on trade deals and the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, as highlighted by the FT. Meanwhile Rishi Sunak has pointed to the freeports policy he announced as chancellor in his March 2021 budget.

2. NI Protocol Bill advances

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill cleared the House of Commons on Wednesday (20 July), as reported in the IOE&IT’s Daily Update.

An extra hour of parliamentary time was inserted so that the bill could go through both the committee stage and the third reading in the same evening.

The bill proceeded to the House of Lords yesterday (Thursday 21 July) for the formality of its first reading. According to ITV, its introduction to the Lords was greeted with heckling.

This forced the Lord Speaker to repeat the process of introducing the bill before allowing it to progress – an indication of the possible contention the bill may yet face.

The date of the bill’s second reading in the Lords is yet to be announced.

3. ‘More exporter support’

Ahead of summer recess, the regular International Trade Questions session took place, where the government answers trade-specific questions.

Following the recent release of international trade statistics including the IOE&IT’s quarterly Exporter Monitor, there were a number of questions raised in relation to exports and help for exporters specifically. Shadow secretary for international trade, Nick Thomas-Symonds, called for support to be given to exporters.

In response, trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan pointed to the Department for International Trade’s “fantastic suite of tools in the export strategy” to encourage business to trade internationally.

4. Trade boost

Also in this session, junior trade minister Ranil Jayawardena reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reduce barriers to export and import.

Jayawardena said that if the UK “can now remove the next 100 trade barriers on our most wanted list, this has the potential to deliver export opportunities for British businesses worth around £20 billion”.

Trevelyan had previously announced a ‘bonfire of the barriers’ to help Britain unlock more opportunities abroad for British business.

5. Parliamentary recess – but no rest for trade

Parliament now enters summer recess until 5 September.

However, with the Conservative leadership race continuing and negotiations on the Israeli and Indian free trade deals ongoing, we assure our readers that the IOE&IT’s Daily Update is not taking a rest – in the knowledge that international trade never sleeps.