Gordon Brown gave his first major public speech of the European Referendum campaign at London School of Economics this week, together with Craig Calhoun, Director and President of LSE. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007 and was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. Gordon Brown is now the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and recently published “Britain: Leading Not Leaving” where he sets out the patriotic case for remaining in Europe. Alongside the meeting, Politique.com was part of the few media with the Financial Times to question the former PM about his view on European Politics.
Politique.com: Thousands of people expressed their concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) do you think that the TTIP could motivate British citizens to vote for Brexit? And what is your opinion regarding the French president position, as Francois Hollande seems now to be skeptical about the TTIP?
Gordon Brown: First of all, I think that our relationships with France are very good. France and Britain are in a partnership to try and solve the refugee crisis in Jordan and Turkey, and the French are leading in trying to solve it working with other governments. Well, you raised a question about the TTIP.
A part of the negotiations has been leaked to the press. And there is a debate about what kind of arbitration procedures in courts could be used to deal with disputes.
I would say that we need to distinguish between the free trade agreements, which is what the Brexit can seem to be about, and trade agreements that seek to create a level playing field.
We can have a free trade agreement. We are trading with countries which do not have the same standards and there is no mutual recognition of each other’s standards or customs or institutions or regulations, and what TTIP is trying to do is level out these differences.
What’s happening is that these negotiations become more about environmental and other standards people are wanting to agree to, for example there is an issue about poultry fed with GM foods which come from America and Canada. The issue is about battery farming of animals which are then sold to the European market. Is it acceptable to Europe?
Increasingly it is not simply about free trade, but whether standards can be mutually accepted and meet health and environmental standards in other countries.
These are very complex agreements which have to be reached; there is lot of water under the bridge. It seems it might be issues what will determine what will follow against Brussels and the European Union and the agreement that could come up at the end.