BELIEVE it or not, in the middle of a pandemic when the government’s entire effort should be aimed at combatting the virus, sustaining our economy and managing competently any relaxation of the lockdown, secret trade talks between the UK and the US have resumed. 

Coronavirus has shown how vulnerable we are, and a trade deal with the US could be more dangerous now than ever.

It will almost certainly affect us here in Stroud because:

1. Given US determination to open up our NHS to private corporations, it is forecast to weaken the NHS and drive up medicine prices.  

2. Allowing US farmers unregulated access to our market will lower animal welfare and environmental standards. Many of our farmers who adhere to higher standards are likely to be driven out of business.

3. The US has refused to allow climate change issues to be considered. This will tie the hands of the UK government when they need all the encouragement we can give them to deliver a green recovery and protect jobs.

Worst of all, the talks are taking place under a cloak of secrecy, hidden from either public or parliamentary scrutiny.

The pandemic has changed our lives and we can’t just keep going with business as usual. Instead we need trade that puts people and planet first.

Our MP needs to insist on MPs’ oversight of the talks as an immediate, minimum first step.

Mike Davis