Big Business Britain: How corporate lobbyists are dominating meetings with trade ministers
UK trade secretary Liam Fox has come under fire for the strong business bias of his Department for International Trade's lobby meetings, as he launches unofficial trade negotiations with the US today. It is a bias that raises questions about the way a possible post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal might be skewed in the interest of Big Business.
Our new briefing, Big Business Britain - How corporate lobbyists are dominating meetings with trade ministers, jointly published with Global Justice Now, reveals the extent to which ministers at the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) are “overwhelmingly prioritising meeting with lobbyists from big business over all other interests.”
The analysis of official meeting records reveals that nine out of ten DIT lobby meetings between October 2016 and March 2017 were with business. This includes 8 meetings with HSBC, 6 with Barclays Bank, and 7 with oil giant BP, while public institutions, trade unions, civil society groups and even pro-business think tanks accounted for less than 10% of all meetings.
Ministers have refused to answer basic parliamentary questions as to the nature of the trade negotiations, including information on who is invited, what is on the agenda and where the talks are taking place. These details have also been judged to be beyond the reach of Freedom of Information requests.
The dataset for this analysis can be accessed here.
The corporate bias in the lobby meetings of DIT mirrors the pattern of lobbying seen at the UK's Department for Exiting the EU (DEXEU) and the EU's Brexit Task Force, as our subsequent research shows.
****This research is co-published by Corporate Europe Observatory and Global Justice Now.****