Brexit betrayal as EU forced Australia to put trade talks with UK on ice
Australia trade deal ‘won’t be a lowering in standards’ says expert
When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed British farmers have a “massive opportunity” from post-Brexit trade deals after a major row over the terms of an agreement with Australia has engulfed his Cabinet. Mr Johnson hit back at criticism from the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s Ian Blackford over the prospect of handing Australian farmers zero-tariff access for lamb and beef, insisting that he “greatly underestimates” the benefits of free trade. Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said that the UK had grown “successful and prosperous” on the back of exporting products around the world, telling MPs: “Our food exports are second to none. He should be proud of that.”
The comments came ahead of a crunch meeting, with senior ministers deeply divided about the potential impact of the deal on the British farming industry.
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, is fighting to extend a transition period – during which tariffs would gradually reduce to zero – from 10 to 15 years in order to shield British farmers and give them more time to adjust.
However, allies of Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, believe that a failure to agree terms could scupper future deals with the US and other major economies, in turn squandering the opportunities of Brexit.
Ms Truss is backed by Lord Frost, the former Brexit negotiator and Minister in charge of EU relations, as well as Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, who warned that a failure to strike an agreement with Australia would make other deals “very challenging.”
As the row is expected to continue for weeks, unearthed reports suggest Britain could have already struck a deal with Australia if it was not for the EU.
In September 2016, European parliamentarians urged Australia to put planned free trade talks with Britain on ice, concerned that the nation could have played Britain and the EU against each other.
They gave Australia a ticking off for starting talks on a free trade deal with the UK, complaining that it might hurt negotiations on a planned free trade deal with the EU – of which Britain was still a member.
Former Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and former Australia Foreign Minister Julie Bishop addressed the European Parliament’s foreign affairs and trade committees, with the aim of bolstering Canberra’s bid for an Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU.
Mr Ciobo had announced that Australia and Britain were going to set up a “bilateral trade working group” to start planning their own trade negotiations, even though Britain was not supposed to have such negotiations while it was still an EU member state.
Former Scottish Labour MEP David Martin said he didn’t “think it was a very satisfactory situation”.
JUST IN: Amol Rajan admitted he thought people from north London ‘were scum’
He told ministers at the committee meeting: “I have to say I have been a little bit concerned about the notion… that you could have a scoping exercise with the EU and at the same time enter into a scoping exercise with the UK while the UK is still a member of the EU.
“I’m not clear whether these two things can go in parallel… we would worry that you’d use the UK as a trade-off in the negotiations and try to say to the EU, ‘Look the UK is promising us this, you’re not promising us this’.
“Even as a UK member I would urge you not to enter into negotiations with the UK at the present time and focus purely on the EU negotiation.”
Reservations spanned the political divide – even though the working group was agreed to by the former International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
Former Conservative MEP Charles Tannock agreed with Mr Martin that negotiations with Britain should have only happened post-Brexit.
He said: “It wouldn’t be right to put the UK ahead of the queue whilst we are still members of the European Union.
“It has to be done properly and legally by due process.”
Gordon Brown told Brexit could derail his SNP counter-attack [INSIGHT]
Putin told Netanyahu Russia could declare war on Israel [REVEALED]
Map showing how SNP’s plan to rejoin EU could tear nation apart [ANALYSIS]
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Australian Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz shed light on the numerous opportunities a trade deal between Britain and Australia will bring in the near future.
In particular, the Senator singled out the sectors he believes will flourish.
He said: “In principle, the more free trade there is, the cheaper commodities for the people in both countries will be.
“There will be greater opportunities for employment as well.
“And look, our agriculture production will be cheaper than the one in Britain, which means the UK will benefit from cheaper food.”
Senator Abetz noted: “We have just got rid of most tariffs in relations to motor vehicles.
“That might also be an opportunity for UK production…”
According to the Senator, the FTA will also mean easier investment in both countries and with each other.
He added: “Australia is always on the lookout for foreign investment.
“We need it. We had it from day one, and from the UK, which continues to be a very important investor in this country.
“The easier we can make that, the better.
“We are countries who trust each other, we have the rule of law and the same legal system.”
When asked whether the deal will be struck before the end of 2021, Senator Abetz said: “I would like to think we could do that.
“Now that the UK has been able to throw off the shackles of EU restrictions, it should take advantage of the freedom it has.
“I hope it will be achieved quickly.”
Source: Read Full Article