The UK secured its first major post-Brexit trade deal after reaching an agreement with Japan which will boost trade by an estimated £15 billion.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said it was a “historic moment” for the two countries which will bring “new wins” for British businesses in the manufacturing, food and drink, and technology industries.
The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was agreed in principle by Ms Truss and Japan’s foreign minister Motegi Toshimitsu in a video call on Friday morning.
Negotiations began in June – with most talks happening remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. A final text of the agreement is likely to be published in October.
The Government said the deal brings benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal, giving UK companies exporting to Japan a competitive advantage.
However yesterday in the House of Commons Truss was called out over this deal by her opposite number, Emily Thornberry.
Thornberry later tweeted: “Yesterday in the House, I confronted Liz Truss with her own Department’s report on the question she’s repeatedly refused to answer: what’s the difference, in pounds and pence, between her Japan deal and the EU-Japan deal it replaces? She didn’t look happy.”
Indeed she didn’t look happy, it seems she doesn’t have an answer to the question, leaving many to wonder if it is the same or perhaps even worse than the deal the EU has with Japan.
Thornberry said to Truss” :By my count I have now asked her three times on the floor of the house, twice in letters, once in a Written Parliamentary Question, a very simple question.
“I’ll ask her again. In pounds and pence what is the forecast increase, in UK exports and growth, resulting from the UK Japan deal compared to the EU/Japan deal that it replaces.
“I fail to see why the Secretary of State gets so indignant about this question. After, all she is the one who has repeatedly claimed over the last 75 days that this deal, she has negotiated with Japan, ‘goes above and beyond’ the EU/Japan deal and ‘goes further and faster than Eu/Japan deal.’
Thornberry then brought impact statements by Truss’ own department that indicated that the deal within the EU would have brought more money than the forecast under the new deal.
“Her groundbreaking British shaped deal has left this country worse off.”
She went on: “She should stop making aggregated claims over the economic benefits of the deal, because she hasn’t got the figures to back this up.”
It didn’t go unnoticed at how uncomfortable Liz Truss looked as she was pulled apart by Thornberry.
Steve Peers Tweeted that: “UK government’s own forecasts say that the EU/Japan FTA had more economic benefits for the UK than the UK/Japan FTA.”