Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Flagship post-Brexit Australia trade deal not actually very good, MPs hear

Flagship post-Brexit Australia trade deal not actually very good, MPs hear


Flagship post-Brexit Australia trade deal not actually very good, MPs hear

The UK's flagship post-Brexit trade deal with Australia is "not actually a very good deal", former environment secretary George Eustice has said.

In highly critical comments, Eustice called for the resignation of Crawford Falconer, the interim permanent secretary for the Department for International Trade, telling the Commons Falconer "resented" people who understood technical trade issues better than him.

Eustice, a supporter of Brexit, said since leaving his job in September he no longer had to put "a positive gloss" on the deal.

"The first step is to recognise that the Australia trade deal is not actually a very good deal for the UK," he told MPs. "It wasn't for lack of trying on my part. Indeed, there were things that we achieved: a special agricultural safeguard for years 10 to 15, staged liberalisation across the first decade, the protection of British sovereignty in SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary] issues.

"It's no surprise that many of these areas were areas negotiated either exclusively or predominantly by Defra on behalf of the UK team.

"But it has to be said that, overall the truth of the matter is that the UK gave away far too much for far too little in return."

Eustice insisted on having always been a "huge fan" of the British civil service, but added: "Crawford Falconer, who is currently the interim permanent secretary, is not fit for that position, in my experience.

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