Umunna – Fox must be investigated over deleted DIT tweet

The Cabinet Secretary must investigate Liam Fox’s department for potential breaches of the Civil Service Code and the Ministerial Code, Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, says today after the Department for International Trade tweeted their endorsement of a report produced by a controversial pro-hard Brexit think tank.

In the tweet, since deleted, the Department for International Trade said: “UK can expect £135bn windfall after Brexit, say Economists for Free Trade.” It linked to a news story on a report by Economists for Free Trade claiming that Brexit will boost the economy, based partly on reducing regulation, which is against official Government policy.

Economists for Free Trade is chaired by Professor Patrick Minford, who has previously admitted that his plans for the unilateral scrapping of tariffs on imports to Britain would “mostly eliminate manufacturing” in the UK. 

Liam Fox has previously been reported to the Cabinet Secretary for hosting, with Boris Johnson, the launch of a different pro-hard Brexit think tank in a Government building.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:

“It is deeply concerning that a Government department should be endorsing the kind of hard Brexit voodoo economics contained in this Economists for Free Trade report. Especially when its author, Patrick Minford, has cheerfully admitted that his plans would lead to the elimination of British manufacturing.

“The Government claims that rights which protect working people will be unaffected by Brexit. But now Liam Fox’s department is supporting a report which calls for employment rights to be slashed after we leave the EU.

“This is surely a breach of the Civil Service Code, which requires officials to practice ‘objectivity’ in everything they do. It would be completely unacceptable for Liam Fox to politicise the Civil Service in order to advance his own right-wing Brextremist ideology. It is particularly concerning when the Trade Secretary and the Foreign Secretary have already been reported to the Cabinet Secretary for a potential breach of the Ministerial Code through their support for another hard-right think tank, the Institute for Free Trade. 

“It tells us all we need to know that the department deleted the tweet less than an hour after posting it. The Cabinet Secretary must urgently investigate potential breaches of the Civil Service Code and the Ministerial Code. And Liam Fox must urgently clarify why his Department has been endorsing reports which are at odds with official Government policy.”

/ends

Notes to editors:

The screenshot of the now-deleted DIT tweet is here:https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/in/pages/13735/attachments/original/1510659725/Screen_Shot_2017-11-14_at_11.25.02.png?1510659725

It linked to this Press Association report on Economists for Free Trade: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-5079053/UK-expect-135bn-windfall-Brexit-say-Economists-Free-Trade.html?hootPostID=da1811a49936b723803011bc2ef99b44 

The Civil Service Code states officials are “expected to carry out your role with dedication and a commitment to the Civil Service and its core values: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.” It defines ‘objectivity’ as “basing your advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence”. 

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-code/the-civil-service-code

The Ministerial Code states: “Ministers must uphold the political impartiality of the Civil Service and not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code.”

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ministerial-code

In September, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson hosted the launch of the pro-hard Brexit Institute for Free Trade at the Foreign Office, for which they were reported to the Cabinet Secretary for a potential breach of the Ministerial Code. 

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-brexit-sacking-ministerial-code-event-foreign-office-a7972676.html

Professor Patrick Minford, the Chair of Economists for Free Trade, has previously said that his plans to unilaterally scrap British tariffs on imports would “mostly eliminate manufacturing” in the UK.

Source: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/mps-react-after-vote-leave-11269819