British consumers are at risk of having to fund huge compensation payments to large US firms suing governments for damaging their profits with legislation that protects consumers.

Examples are governments freezing energy prices, nationalising industries such as our health service and requiring prominent health warnings to be printed on packets of cigarettes, something the giant tobacco firm Philip Morris is currently suing the government of Uruguay for, claiming more than £15 million in compensation. This is something it has tried twice before, once in Australia where it lost and once in Thailand where it won.

The anti-consumer mechanism that allows such a ludicrous and dangerous state of affairs is Free Trade Agreements between countries, such as the proposed one causing much concern in the UK. This is one between the USA and the EU called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). If ratified by both sides then all EU governments, including the UK will be at risk from large US multinationals seeking to preserve their profits, when threatened by consumer protection legislation.

Our government’s position seems to be that the TTIP will be good for jobs and trade and that concerns about possible legal action against it are unfounded, this despite records showing that large US companies have made billions of pounds courtesy of similar trade agreements and 130 lawsuits against governments in the last ten years.

Could it be that our government, and others in the EU simply cannot see the dangers, or that some in the EU corridors of power are being paid for their myopia? We must be told, before the crass stupidity goes ahead.

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