The following column appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle published 23 December.
I’m willing to bet all my Christmas presents that hardly anyone reading this column has heard of something called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP for short.
TTIP is a trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the US. Perhaps surprisingly, quite a few constituents have contacted me about this but for good reason.
Trade is incredibly important to jobs and growth in Britain, including here in Barnsley. Most of our trade is with the EU, which is one of the big reasons why we need to stay in the EU but fight for a better deal for Britain.
TTIP has the potential to bring massive benefits to our economy – with one estimate showing the average household stands to gain up to £400 per year because of reduced consumer goods prices and increasing wages.
But there are some big issues at stake. As well as promoting trade, we need to protect our public services.
Most importantly, we need to make sure the NHS is exempt. We need to ensure TTIP doesn’t, for example, allow a foreign health company to sue the Government for potential loss of earnings if it can’t get an NHS contract. That’s why Labour Members of the European Parliament voted against this part of the deal.
Trade should be about boosting growth and competitiveness, but TTIP must also avoid a race to the bottom in hard-won labour, consumer, environmental and safety standards by placing them ahead of company profits.
If done right, this deal between Europe and America has huge potential to grow our economy and potentially open up great opportunities for people in Barnsley. But we need to make sure it’s the right thing to do.
That’s why so many of you have written to me about this and that’s exactly what we need to do.