New Govt Policy: ‘Less Climate Concern’ Key To Brexit Trade

  • Date: 09/04/17
  • Tim Shipman, Political editor, The Sunday Times

Government papers reveal plan to tone down stance on environment in bid to win deals with Latin America and Africa

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Civil service documents, photographed on a train, reveal that Britain plans to scale down its concern over climate change and the trade in illegal wildlife to clear the way for post-Brexit trade deals.

Details of the policy change were contained in the papers of a senior civil servant at the Department for International Trade (DIT) photographed by a passenger earlier this month.

They include the speech notes of Tim Hitchens, the director-general of economic and consular affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The notes show he will tell diplomats and trade negotiators that they need to change their focus if the UK is to fulfil Theresa May’s vision of Britain as “a great, global trading nation”.

“You have a crucial role to play in posts in implementing our new approach to prosperity against the huge changes stemming from last year’s Brexit vote,” the notes say.

“Trade and growth are now priorities for all posts — you will all need to prioritise developing capability in this area. Some economic security-related work like climate change and illegal wildlife trade will be scaled down.”

Hitchens was unavailable for comment but Whitehall sources said the change of emphasis will make it easier to sign trade deals with countries in Latin America and Africa. At the moment, trade and aid arrangements with these countries can get bogged down with clauses that put environmental protections ahead of economic prosperity.

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