Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 21 February 2024.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Chair, Business and Trade Committee, Chair, Business and Trade Committee, Chair, Business and Trade Sub-Committee on National Security and Investment, Chair, Business and Trade Sub-Committee on National Security and Investment 12:43, 21 February 2024

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Could you advise me on how we can get to the bottom of exactly what is going on with our Canadian trade talks? On 25 January, Politico broke a story about a breakdown in our trade talks with Canada. When I asked the Secretary of State for Business and Trade about this, she said:

“This is a good opportunity for me to state explicitly that the talks have not broken down.”—[Official Report, 29 January 2024;
Vol. 744, c. 657.]

On the Business and Trade Committee, we trust but verify. Madam Deputy Speaker, you will be as surprised as I was to hear the following relayed in a letter from the Canadian high commissioner:

“As far as I am aware, since the U.K. announced its pause on January 25th, there have been neither negotiations nor technical discussions with respect to any of the outstanding issues”.

Canada is a NATO ally, a Commonwealth partner and one of our biggest export markets. How do we get to the bottom of whether these trade talks are going on in the Secretary of State’s mind or happening in real life?