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Liz Truss issues dig about Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ approach

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives in Downing Street London - Credit: PA

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has issued a dig about Donald Trump’s approach to trade, and has insisted British values would not be compromised for post-Brexit trade deals.

Truss said Britain would reject a Donald Trump-style “Britain First” approach as she criticised “values-free globalisation” in a keynote speech in London.

In a Chatham House address Truss said she wants a “values-driven free trade agenda” in the wake of Brexit and stressed the UK will learn from “the mistakes of the past” regarding trade.

Truss said: “Our red lines remain at the heart of this values-driven approach.

“Namely, our NHS remains off the table. Our food standards must not be undermined and British farming must benefit. And any trade deal must level-up our country.”

The cabinet minister attacked the “mercenaries of global trade” and the agenda of “values-free globalisation”, which she said has led to state-owned companies selling subsidised goods around the world and “undermining free enterprise”.

She claimed the world has turned a blind eye to “pernicious” trading practices for too long and rejected protectionism.

With less than a week to go before the US presidential election, Truss said that at a time of “America First” and the EU’s “strategic autonomy”, the UK “will not be pulling up the drawbridge in an autarkic Britain First approach”.

Her comments were clearly in reference to US President Donald Trump who has pressed an “America First” agenda since his surprise victory in 2016.

But Truss said protectionism and a “values-free” approach to globalisation have had a “corrosive effect on the foundations of our rules-based free trade system, spreading disillusionment and distrust”.

In a dig at Brussels, Truss branded the EU “innovation-phobic” with “its high tariff wall”.

She claimed the UK now has the chance to become the “ideas factory of the world” and reshape global rules in areas like digital and data, services and advanced manufacturing.

The International Trade Secretary said: “I can tell you here today that Britain is learning from the twin errors of values-free globalisation and protectionism. And we are instead rooting our approach for global free trade in our values of sovereignty, democracy, the rule of law and a fierce commitment to high standards.

“In opening ourselves up to embrace more fantastic opportunities, we need to maintain a sustainable approach which commands widespread support and democratic legitimacy.

“The British people care deeply about fairness, decency and liberty. We can best spread our fundamental values – freedom, democracy, human rights and protecting our natural environment for the future – by working with our friends and family across the world.

“Our coalition of the willing won’t just deliver better values across the world but help deliver economic value. This is why I call our trade policy values-driven and value-generating.”