Emily Thornberry has accused former international trade secretary Liz Truss of lying about the benefits of UK’s new deal with Japan as compared to the EU deal with Japan, which Britain was part of before Brexit.
The shadow secretary for international trade said, in a series of tweets, that Truss told Parliament last October that the post-Brexit trade deal with Japan had ‘higher’ benefits than the deal the UK previously had with the country through the EU.
Thornberry revealed officials close to the now foreign secretary discussed “procedural options” on how to correct the statement, but that Truss “never did”.
Truss insisted UK-Japan deal benefits are ‘higher’ than the EU-Japan deal
It comes after in November 2020, Thornberry asked Truss in the Commons to quantify in pounds or percentages the exact difference in benefits for Britain between a UK-Japan deal and a EU-Japan deal.
At the time, Truss labelled the demand for exact figures as “extraordinary”, and claimed she was being asked to “carry out economic analysis on behalf of the EU”.
But she said the deal “goes further and faster and brings in additional economic benefits”.
When pressed to say whether those benefits would be higher for UK’s individual deal, Truss eventually said: “yes, it is higher”.
Discussing ‘procedural options’ to correct statements by Truss
But a letter Thornberry sent to Truss the next day further asking for “facts” caused the Department for International Trade to discuss “procedural options” on how to correct official Parliament records held in the Hansard digital platform.
“If Truss had told the truth, why were those options necessary?,” Thornberry asked yesterday.
She continued: “Despite the advice, Truss left the record uncorrected. Fortunately, I exposed her false claims myself the following week.
“But this is just what the government does time after time: blatant lies with no consequences and still no correction. It’s shameless.”
UK public ‘left in the dark’?
Earlier this year, a survey found more than two-thirds of the UK public feel “left in the dark” about the impact that post-Brexit trade deals struck by the government will have.
While a host of rollover deals with countries have been secured, mirroring the terms that had initially been in place when a member of the European bloc, and fresh agreements with Japan and Australia have been signed, a survey found that Britons feel the Government has not been open about what the bilateral treaties entail.
A survey of more than 3,000 UK adults found that 67 per cent felt the public receives too little information from ministers about trade deals, with only seven per cent recording they knew that the UK had a deal in place with Japan.
A quarter of consumers who took part in the poll conducted on behalf of consumer choice group Which? said they felt the Government was “not at all open” about the impact new trade deals will have.
These figures were highest in Northern Ireland, where dissatisfaction among Unionists over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which effectively keeps a part of the UK in the EU’s single market for goods to prevent a hard border, has been escalating since it came into force.