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Interview: David Anderson—parliament on the international plane

The UK is seeking to sign new deals around the world. But how can parliament secure accountability without incapacitating the government’s negotiations? One peer sets out the options

By Alex Dean  

Lord Anderson of Ipswich. Official parliamentary portrait

The role parliament should play in international negotiations is a thorny constitutional question. Negotiations must be conducted by a single actor which should be able to move quickly and take decisions—in practice that means the government. But international treaties can materially impact a domestic population, meaning thorough scrutiny of some kind is essential. The question is how to reconcile those imperatives. 

Brexit has given that question new relevance. The government is seeking to sign comprehensive new trade deals and has just applied to join the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-member trade bloc including Australia and Japan. A committee…

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