Daily Mail

Truss’s Australia trade deal ‘is not good for UK’ says former minister

- By Tom Witherow Senior Political Correspond­ent

BORIS Johnson and Liz Truss’s landmark trade agreement with Australia ‘is not a very good deal for the UK’, a former Cabinet minister has said.

George Eustice, who was directly involved in the negotiatio­ns as environmen­t secretary, accused Miss Truss of ‘shattering’ the UK’s negotiatin­g position to get a deal done quickly.

Miss Truss had hailed the 2021 deal as a ‘win-win deal for our £14billion trading relationsh­ip’, claiming it offered ‘lower prices and more choice for UK shoppers’.

But the outcome caused immediate uproar among British farmers, who said it was a ‘one-sided deal’ that ‘capitulate­d to Australian demands’.

Yesterday, Mr Eustice laid bare the furious disagreeme­nt between Miss Truss, then acting as trade secretary, and his Department of Environmen­t, Food and Rural Affairs, which supports UK farming. He told the Commons: ‘The UK went into this negotiatio­n holding the strongest hand, holding all of the best cards.

‘But at some point in early summer 2021, the then trade secretary [Miss Truss] took a decision to set an arbitrary target to conclude heads of terms by the time of the G7 summit, and from that moment the UK was on the back foot repeatedly.’

Mr Eustice – who had campaigned for Brexit – warned that ‘unless we recognise the failures that the Department for Internatio­nal Trade made during the Australia negotiatio­ns, we won’t be able to learn the lessons for future negotiatio­ns’.

The Australian deal was crucial because it was the first free trade agreement negotiated following Brexit that did not simply roll over an existing arrangemen­t with an EU trading partner.

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