A free trade deal between the UK and Australia is on course to include a controversial system of secret courts that will allow businesses to seek compensation if their profits are hit by government policies.
In a move that has alarmed trade unions and anti-poverty campaigners, trade minister Greg Hands said UK negotiators were in talks with Australian officials over proposals to include a scheme that will arbitrate on disputes behind closed doors.
It is understood that the UK plans to announce the framework for a trade deal with Australia before the G7 summit begins on 11 June, after prime minister Boris Johnson invited his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, to the event in Cornwall.
Trade secretary Liz Truss said last week that a deal would be in the best interests of the UK economy and its exporters would benefit from unfettered access to Australian markets.
Until now the most controversial element of the proposed deal has been a…