Emily Thornberry’s letter bashing Brexit trade deals backfires after humiliating gaffe

Emily Thornberry says Liz Truss is ‘like Johnson in a blue dress’

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The Labour frontbencher wrote a four-page letter to Ms Truss’s successor criticising her legacy. Anne Maire Trevelyan took up the responsibility of sealing post-Brexit trade deals as part of a Government reshuffle.

In her letter, Ms Thornberry outlined 25 “mistakes to correct” as she attacked Britain’s post-Brexit trade achievements.

She wrote: “There are great opportunities for the UK to both increase our exports worldwide from sectors where we are already world famous, from food and drink to financial services, nut also to be global leaders in the fastest-growing new export markets, in areas ranging from green technology to digital services, all with a view to driving increased jobs and growth at home.

“However, before we can discuss that positive agenda, it is important to address the numerous and varied problems you have inherited from your predecessor.

“While Liz Truss did not succeed in completing a single new agreement that we did not already have inside the EU during her two years and two months in the trade role, she has not left you with an entirely blank sheet of paper.

“Instead, there are a large number of difficulties to resolve and mistakes to correct.”

The vast majority of trade deals signed by the UK post-Brexit have been continuity agreements that roll over the terms of pacts struck while the UK was a member of the EU.

However, Ms Thornberry’s letter appears to completely miss off two agreements struck which are different ones held with the EU.

In October 2020, the UK signed a deal with Japan.

At the time, Ms Truss described the pact as a “ground-breaking, British-shaped deal”.

Tailored for the UK economy, it secured additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan deal.

Nearly all exports to Japan are now tariff-free, while UK tariffs on Japanese cars will be removed by 2026.

Ms Thornberry’s letter also ignored agreements signed with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Announced in June, the deal built on the EU continuity pact that came into force at the start of this year.

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The agreement focused heavily on digital trade but also reduced tariffs and increased quotas for the export for British goods such as pork and poultry.

The fish processing sector, retail and consumers have also benefitted from cheaper imports of prawns, shrimp and white fish.

Ms Truss was made Foreign Secretary on Wednesday as a reward for her success in the trade role.

As well as the continuity agreements and new deal, the South West Norfolk MP has also negotiated several high-profile deals set to be formalised in the coming weeks.

Deals with Australia, New Zealand, India and accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership are all set to be complete in the coming months.

Her record as Trade Secretary made Ms Truss a firm favourite among Conservative members.

In her new role she will now be responsible for promoting Boris Johnson’s Global Britain vision to the rest of the world.

Taking over in the trade role, Ms Trevelyan said she was “delighted” to be joining the Cabinet.

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