Skip to main content

Trade Tuesday: What is the Conservative and Labour Party’s vision for trade policy?

04 October 2022

By Emily Chen

Trade Tuesday

This year’s party conference season has been the most eventful in years, with the Opposition leading in the polls and a new Prime Minister at the helm of Government now four weeks in office. For Trade Tuesday we have analysed what Labour and the Conservatives have outlined as their vision for the UK’s international trade policy at their respective party conferences over the last fortnight. Read our overview below and contact our Trade Team for advice 

International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch’s party conference address outlined that her political views were heavily shaped by her experiences growing up in Nigeria. She understood that you cannot ‘buck the market’ and that there are ‘iron-clad rules of supply and demand’. In her
experience, the use of export controls and capital controls would make
the currency ‘go haywire’. 
Northern Ireland row  
During her speech at conference, Kemi Badenoch chose not to mention
the Northern Ireland Protocol directly at all. Liz Truss in her former role as Foreign Secretary introduced controversial legislation which would
remove the Northern Ireland Protocol protections. It was reported in
September,  a House of Lords rebellion over how they may amend or halt the Northern Ireland Bill would be likely given Parliamentarians’
preference to find a diplomatic solution in talks with the EU.  
Business/ Climate  
In her conference speech, Badenoch argued that trade was a tool for
prosperity and security. She feared that the world was becoming
increasingly protectionist and warned that we need to consider what
minerals we need access to in order to build electric vehicles. She then
underlined that we ‘must not allow... China and Russia to get there first’.  
UK economy and regions  
Similarly, Badenoch outlined that trade is integral to the wider
Conservative growth plan. She wanted to increase exports so everyone in the UK could able to benefit.  
Vision  Shadow International Trade Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds
outlined Labour’s overarching goal of ‘re-establishing the UK’s position in international trade’. A Labour government intends to use trade and
levelling up agendas to be mutually beneficial. He explained that
international trade is a ‘vital part’ of growing our economy and ‘giving
people hope for a decent job and a good future’.  Hence, the Labour trade policy is seeking to ‘deliver jobs at home... be a force for good in the
Northern Ireland row  Thomas-Symonds said that Labour would take a ‘pragmatic’ approach to Northern Ireland, and explained that a Labour
government would prioritise getting people around a table and talking
things through.  
Business/ Climate The Shadow Trade Secretary underlined the ‘urgency’ of the climate change crisis. He declared that Labour’s plan to drive green British exports included a £28bn climate investment pledge that would
create a nationwide network of Climate Export Hubs. The hubs will work with businesses and universities to take UK climate science innovations
and export them.  
UK economy and regions  Following on from his climate investment
pledge, Thomas-Symonds underlined that export hubs need to support
every region in the country, because ‘we can’t go on with a situation
where only 1.4% of exporters are from the North East’. To challenge this, he pledged  ‘the next Labour government will establish firm rules to
ensure that trade negotiators have binding responsibilities to help deliver economic opportunities across the whole of the UK’.