Government hits back at Andrew Adonis over trade department claims

Posted On: 
7th August 2017

The Department for International Trade has branded a number of claims made by a government adviser “completely false”.

Lord Adonis wrote a comment piece for the Guardian
Credit: 
PA Images

In an unusual lengthy rebuttal, the Government bristled at Lord Adonis’ suggestion that it did not get its first choice for chief Brexit negotiator and burnished the popularity of posts within the newly-established department.

Lord Adonis, the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission and a former transport secretary, said in a piece for the Guardian last week that Crawford Falconer had not been the favoured candidate for the key role of leading the department’s trade team.

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“The first candidate (a Canadian) turned the job down after a pay dispute, and DIT has had to make do with an official from tiny New Zealand,” he wrote.

“This isn’t surprising: trade negotiators generally get their professional kicks from breaking down barriers to trade. Why would it be career-enhancing for negotiators from the rest of the world to come to Britain to help us recreate them?”

DIT has today published a press release claiming the opinion piece had been “incorrect”.

It said: “We appointed globally respected trade negotiator Crawford Falconer, to the DIT chief trade negotiation adviser role.

“Crawford was the top candidate and our first choice: to suggest otherwise is completely false.”

The Labour peer also said DIT has “virtually” no trade lawyers and was budgeting £1.5m this year for private legal practitioners.

The department interpreted the remark as saying it had “no trade lawyers” – something it went on to deny.

“As with many other government departments, DIT has its own team of dedicated lawyers.

“Currently there are over 20 lawyers working specifically on trade issues and are based at DIT – this will grow as we enter further talks and negotiations

“There is significant demand for roles at all levels within DIT – in one round of recruitment for 96 roles, the department received 1,608 applications.

“Our permanent secretary and chief trade negotiation adviser roles received 111 and 58 applications respectively.”