The 9th formal round of negotiations between the UK and EU have concluded with further talks continuing. State aid, governance and fisheries remain the issues cited as points of contention. Labour continues to press the Government to deliver the deal on the terms it promised at the general election including tariff-free and barrier-free trade, protections for the environment and workers’ rights, and a robust and comprehensive security partnership.
It’s likely we’ll see a deal done in the coming days if it is to be ratified in time for the end of the transition period. However I fear and expect it will fall well short of the promises made in the Political Declaration.
With only weeks to go until the end of the transition period, Labour continue to highlight the Government’s lack of competence with preparations.
A lot of promises were made in the run-up to the Brexit vote, and in the four years following the Government has had three fundamental jobs on trade: first, getting a deal to secure the half of our trade that depends on Europe; second, negotiating ‘rollover deals’ with the 40 countries and trade blocs who we currently trade freely with thanks to our membership of the EU; and third, negotiating entirely new trade deals with other countries around the world. It is extremely disappointing that with 31 December just around the corner, the Government has filed dismally on all three counts. We have no deal in place with the EU; rollover deals have still not been agreed with the likes of Canada, Turkey, Singapore and Mexico; and not a single genuinely new free trade deal has been agreed with any other country in the world.
The Government has trumpeted its rollover trade deal with Japan, but fails to mention that 83% of the export growth resulting from the deal will go to Japanese exporters and only 17% to British firms. As a result, according to the government’s own figures, our trade deficit with Japan will rise by 1,000 per cent in the next 15 years, from £1 billion to £11.5 billion.
As things stand now, we would go into 2021 with little over 8 per cent of our global trade covered by deals.