UK Should Consider Brexit If EU Signs TTIP, Suggests Labour Economics Adviser Joseph Stiglitz

02/03/2016 20:10 | Updated 02 March 2016
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Britain could be better off outside the European Union if the proposed free trade deal with the United States is signed, a senior Labour economic adviser has suggested.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist recruited by shadow chancellor John McDonnell to advise the party, said if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) EU-US deal is similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal between the US and pacific countries then "no democracy" should support it.

Stiglitz supports UK's membership of the EU as is, however asked by The Huffington Post UK on Wednesday whether the passing of TTIP would change his mind, he said: "I actually think that the strictures imposed by TTIP, if it were like TPP, would be sufficiently adverse to the functioning of government it would probably affect my views.

"It would make me think certainly over again about whether membership of the EU was a good idea."

Stiglitz warned it would mean almost every time the UK passed a regulation to limit the health impact of toxins such as asbestos or to tackle climate change "you would be sued" by corporations.

"There's nothing to stop you, in TTIP, from passing regulations. You can keep the regulations. You would just have to keep writing a cheque to [cigarette firm] Phillip Morris every year for the profits they lost from what they would have been if they had been able to kill people in the way they had in the past," he said. "Every year you would have to write them another billion dollar cheque."

European and US officials hope to conclude TTIP by the end of the year, amid widespread opposition across the continent including from within the European Parliament.

David Cameron has defended the trade deal, arguing "the opportunities for Britain of trading more with the United States of America are clear".

john mcdonnell mp

Stiglitz was speaking following a speech at Birkbeck University in London alongside McDonnell, as part of the shadow chancellor's 'New Economics' seminar tour.

The American signed up to be part of a panel of economic advisers for Labour along with several other leading economists including Thomas Piketty and Danny Blanchflower.

He told the audience in central-London the "danger" of TTIP, the precise details of which remain under-wraps, was it might end up "looking like TPP".

"We know what TPP looks like and no democracy should ever support anything that looks like TPP. Those are strong words but it's really true," he said.

He said it would mean "any government that passes a regulation that has an adverse effect on the profits of a company can be sued" by that company.

Stiglitz said the lawyers who drafted TPP designed it to be so strict that if governments passed regulations "trying to prevent polonium in baby cereal" companies would sue. "This is not a joke," he added.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is campaigning for Britain to remain a member of the EU at the upcoming referendum. However he has previously warned that TTIP could "sign away a lot of public services across the whole continent".

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