Hilary Benn stands down from business commission after Shadow Cabinet promotion

Hilary Benn MP will stand down from his position as co-convener of the cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission with immediate effect after being confirmed as the new Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Mr Benn established the Commission in April 2021, alongside the Chairman of Virgin Group, Peter Norris and with support from Best for Britain, to gather evidence and provide scrutiny of how post-Brexit trade deals will affect UK businesses.

As Co-convener, Mr Benn chaired a number of evidence sessions relating to the impact of the Government’s Brexit deal on Northern Ireland and led the Commission’s first ‘seeing is believing’ site visit, bringing British politicians and business leaders to Belfast and the port of Larne to gather evidence on how the Northern Ireland Protocol was working in practice.

The UK Trade and Business Commission used this evidence to propose recommendations aimed at removing friction for Northern Ireland’s businesses and political leaders. Many of these were reflected in the Prime Minister's Windsor Framework Agreement with the EU. 

While leading the Commission, Mr Benn was a strong voice in opposition to the Government’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which many claimed would break international law and which was eventually scrapped following strong lobbying by Best for Britain.

Peter Norris, Chair of Virgin Group and Co-convener of the UK Trade and Business Commission said:

“It has been an honour to work alongside Hilary for the last two and a half years, delivering practical policy recommendations for reducing trade friction at our borders. 

“I wish him all the best in his new role, and look forward to working closely with his successor as co-convenor, and all our commissioners, as we continue to press for a closer trading relationship with the EU. “

Naomi Smith, Chief Executive of Best for Britain, Secretariat for the UK Trade and Business Commission said,

“Hilary’s dedication, forensic analysis, grasp of detail and personable nature have been indispensable in establishing the Commission and in carrying out the important work we do. 

“We extend to him our deepest gratitude, warmest congratulations and best wishes in his new role and a promise that the Commission’s work will continue in the spirit with which he started it."