Liz Truss has claimed that a trade deal between the UK and Japan goes “further and faster” than the current EU-Japan agreement, but refused to quantify how, following questions from Labour.
Shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry questioned the minister as the opposition continued to scrutinise the new agreement.
Thornberry called for Truss to provide “in billions of pounds and percentage of growth what the forecast benefits are for the UK exports in GDP from her deal, compared to the forecast benefits of retaining the existing EU-Japan deal.”
But Truss instead complained the opposition was obsessing about the EU, saying it’s “almost like the Labour Party never wanted us to leave in the first place”.
But returning to her feet, Thornberry was baffled why the government would not provide the figures.
She said: “I mean, what is going on? (Truss) who 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?”
But the Tory MP said it was not her job to “carry out economic analysis on behalf of the EU”.
Refusing to quantify the benefits of her new arrangements over the one already agreed between the EU and Japan, she said: “I think it’s extraordinary that (Thornberry) 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?
Taunting Thornberry, she continued: “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.”