Former First Minister Arlene Foster to be appointed Chair of InterTrade UK

Baroness Foster is set to be announced as the Chair of InterTrade UK, a new body established to 'maximise the full range of East-West trading opportunities'; The SDLP have questioned the appointment.

Arlene Foster is set to be appointed as Chair of InterTrade UK, according to BBC News.

Baroness Foster served as the First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2016-2017 and 2020-2021 and is currently a member of the House of Lords.

InterTrade UK was announced as part of the ‘Safeguarding the Union’ command paper in January 2024.

In February, DUP MP for East Londonderry Gregory Campbell asked the Northern Ireland Office when InterTrade UK will be established and operational.

“The Government is working to establish InterTrade UK as set out in the Command Paper, fulfilling our pledge to grow the economy by ensuring that businesses large and small can maximise the full range of East-West trading opportunities. Implementing the Windsor Framework and the Command Paper are Government priorities. We will undertake to update the House on its progress in due course.”

– Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Steve Baker MP

Baroness Foster served as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in the Northern Ireland Executive from 2008 until 2015.

Since leaving frontline politics, she has worked as a presenter on GB News, and in August 2023 she joined the Impartial Reporter as a columnist.

SDLP seek clarity on appointment

Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP) MLA Daniel McCrossan has written to the Commissioner for Public Appointments to seek clarity on the appointment.

The MLA for West Tyrone says that his party “continue to have serious problems” with the Safeguarding the Union command paper.

“The SDLP expressed serious reservations about the content of the Safeguarding the Union Command Paper when it was published and despite the deafening silence of others, we continue to have serious problems with it.

“It is now being reported that a body created by this exclusive negotiation between the DUP and the British Government is to be chaired by a former DUP Leader, appointed by the British Government. Given the complex ecosystem of interests that exist in such an appointment, we have to be assured that it has been based on a competitive, open, transparent and merit-based process.

“I have written to the Commissioner for Public Appointments seeking clear assurances that such an appointment would meet the high standards contained in the principles for public appointments which govern these matters.”

– Daniel McCrossan MLA, West Tyrone

The appointment is yet to be formally announced.

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