Politics

‘Clutching at straws!’ Labour blasted for desperate bid to thwart Liz Truss’s Brexit deals

Labour 'clutching at straws' says Ranil Jayawardena

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Trade minister Ranil Jayawardena tore into the opposition party in the House of Commons as he boasted about the Tories’ record on Brexit. Highlighting the extensive deals negotiated by Liz Truss and the Department for International Trade, he attacked Labour for attempting to block new agreements.

“The Labour Party is hopelessly out of touch,” he said as he answered questions from MPs.

“This Conservative Government is focused on delivering for the British people.

“Unlike Labour, we have a plan for growth. Trade is essential to that.

“We’ve secure trade deals with 67 countries around the world plus the EU, covering trade worth £730billion last year, and we’re just getting started.”

His triumphant comments were made after a series of Labour MPs took aim at the deals negotiated by the Government.

At one point, Labour’s Alex Cunningham attacked the Government for holding talks trade with Cameroon, saying ministers appeared to be justifying trade deals with “murderous” regimes on the basis they are now killing fewer of their own people.

He said: “In response to the adjournment debate last night, trade minister Graham Stuart told the House in relation to Cameroon ‘violence does appear to have decreased in recent months compared with the peak of the conflict’, as if the fact the Biya regime is now killing and maiming fewer of its citizens was justification for our trade deal with them.

“Is it really the Government’s position that it’s fine to do trade deals with murderous regimes if they’re now killing fewer of their own people than they were?”

Mr Jayawardena responded: “The British people will have noticed I have now answered five questions by Labour MPs on future trade agreements, and instead of seeking to secure benefits for their constituents on those deals they are clutching at straws to stop them.”

Labour MPs have been vocal in their criticism of a number of agreements signed by the UK since leaving the EU.

Shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry has accused Ms Truss of planning to “sell out” farmers in a deal with Australia “for the price of a quick trade deal, and a cheap headline at the G7 summit”.

A free trade agreement is expected to be signed off by Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart next week.

Ms Thornberry has also said it is “impossible” to do a trade deal without undermining UK interests.

“If we were to think of Joe Biden as the answer to all the concerns that previously beset a UK-US trade deal, we would be deeply naive,” she wrote in a newspaper op-ed earlier this week.

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“It would be impossible for the government to do a deal that can satisfy US demands on agriculture and healthcare, while also keeping the promises that ministers have made to the British public on farming, food and the NHS.”

In April, the Labour politician was mocked as she was accused of failing to understand international trade when she wrote a letter to Ms Truss warning of the dangers of Britain joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

A formal application to join the group was submitted by the UK earlier this year.

It would open up trade opportunities with its 11 members: Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan.

Ms Thornberry claimed “China may apply to join the CPTPP” meaning Britain would have a deal with the communist state through the backdoor.

However, the claims were dismissed as scaremongering at the time, with Conservative MPs saying Japan would veto any attempts by China to join.

On MP told Express.co.uk: “It just shows Labour and Emily Thornberry are completely out of their depth.

“No wonder they were against Brexit, they couldn’t understand the intricacies of international trade deals.”

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