Chair of the International Trade Committee (ITC) Angus MacNeil has warned that he sees "little to no evidence" UK businesses will be protected in the event of a no-deal Brexit and has accused the Department for International Trade of complacency in its preperations.
In a letter to trade secretary Liam Fox, MacNeil warned the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) - the body charged with investigating unfair trading practices that harm UK businesses after Brexit - is currently unprepared and may lack authority in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March.
MacNeil raised "significant concerns that we have around the establishment and future operational effectiveness of the TRA", warning of the increasing urgency of addressing such concerns given the increasingly likelihood of a no-deal Brexit amid political stalemate over negotiations.
The Scottish National Party MP said it was of "the utmost importance" that the Trade Bill, which empowers the TRA, pass through Parliament in order to give the body authority.
However, MacNeil noted, the government has already been defeated on the bill in the House of Lords.
MacNeil therefore demanded information on when Fox's department intends to "comply with the amendment to provide further scrutiny of post-Brexit trade agreements" so that the bill can progress through House of Lords and into the House of Commons for debate.
In addition, he requests that Fox provide the ITC with his contingency plans should the Bill not be passed in time for Brexit and whether his contingency plans "extend to a scenario where the Trade Bill does pass in time for 29 March, but where there is insufficient time for the relevant secondary legislation to pass into law."
MacNeil also claimed the TRA is still in the process of recruiting and training staff and, as a result, "only one third of the staff already in place have completed their training".
He said: "This is highly concerning, given that we are a matter of weeks away from a scenario where the TRA needs to be fully operational."
Finally, MacNeil noted that he was "very concerned" that no Chair Designate of the TRA has been put in place.
Commenting on his demands, to which he wants answers by Friday 15 February, MacNeil said: "I have seen little to no evidence to indicate that the TRA will be ready to protect UK businesses on exit day if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
"The complacency demonstrated by the Department for International Trade is unacceptable; setting up a truly effective trade remedies authority is no mean feat and I'm concerned that the necessary steps to establish the TRA are falling to the bottom of the Department's to-do list.
"I have written to Liam Fox to request absolute clarity on how the Department will ensure the TRA is ready in the event of a no-deal Brexit."