The Shadow International Trade Secretary pressed ministers to outline the benefits of the UK’s trade deal with Japan over existing arrangements. But Ms Thornberry was torn apart when Liz Truss claimed Labour would not have got a deal with Japan. She went on to question why Shadow International Trade Minister Bill Esterson was still comparing the UK to the EU.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Thornberry said: “The Right Honourable Lady has repeatedly claimed that the deal that she signed with Japan goes far beyond the original EU-Japan deal.
“So I return to the question that I asked her two months ago – will she tell us in billions of pounds and percentages of growth, what the forecast benefits are for UK exports in GPD from her deal compared to the forecast benefits of retaining the existing EU-Japan deal?”
Ms Truss responded: “Well it’s interesting she’s interested in the difference because the Labour Party didn’t support the original deal with Japan and if it was down to them, we wouldn’t even have this deal in the first place.
“We’ve been very clear about the additional benefits we’ve secured – better provisions on digital and data, better provisions on business mobility, better provisions on intellectual property, better protection of British geographical indicators.
“And the Right Honourable Gentleman for Sefton Central is shouting from a sedentary position, ‘how much is it worth?’ – why, when we have left the EU, do they constantly seek to compare us with the existing EU provisions.
“It’s almost like the Labour Party never wanted us to leave in the first place.”
Ms Thornberry hit back: “I mean, what is going on? The Right Honourable Lady claims that the UK-Japan deal goes far beyond the EU-Japan deal won’t quantify the difference. Well why won’t she?
“But if she won’t publish the exact figures at this point, can I at least ask her to do one very basic thing – will she simply state on the parliamentary record whether the growth in our exports and GDP are forecast to be higher as a result of the UK-Japan deal than they were under the EU-Japan deal?”
Ms Truss responded: “I think it’s extraordinary that the Right Honourable Lady is asking me to carry out economic analysis on behalf of the EU. She hasn’t asked me about the Australia-Japan deal and whether that’s better or not.
“She hasn’t asked me the deal that China have with Japan or any other deals.
“So why is she asking me about the EU?
“We have left the EU, we have left the EU, it is no longer our responsibility to do their economic calculations for them, but I have been very clear that this deal goes further and faster and brings additional economic benefits, yes it is higher.”
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Ms Truss went on to note that the Government is “working very hard” to secure a “good deal” with the European Union.
She said: “Well I am committed to having a positive relationship with the European Union.
“And of course, we want with every part of the world good trade deals that uphold our standards and facilitate increased trade in areas like services, data and digital, but the important principle is that we cannot do that at the expense of the UK’s sovereignty. And those are the negotiations currently being conducted by Lord Frost.”
In a later response to Labour’s Chris Bryant MP, Ms Truss added: “We are working very hard to secure a good deal with the European Union and negotiations are ongoing.”