Sunak hails £1.8 billion trade deal as reason he voted for Brexit

MPs vote through Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal

Rishi Sunak hailed Britain’s new blockbuster trade pact with Pacific nations as the reason why he “voted for Brexit”. He said the bumper tie-up was made easier by quitting the EU and will put the UK in a “prime position” in the global economy.

The trade bonanza is expected to add £1.8billion to the UK’s annual GDP over time, create tens of thousands of jobs and will be a major boost to exporters.

It is the second major trade breakthrough for the Prime Minister after his post-Brexit pact with the EU on Northern Ireland.

In a direct message to Daily Express readers, Mr Sunak said: “It’s only because of Brexit that we have been able to grasp this opportunity.”

Britain’s accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership – formally known as the CPTPP – opens up trading opportunities with a market of 500 million people.

More than 99 percent of UK goods exports to member states will now be eligible for zero tariffs, including products such as cars, machinery, cheese, chocolate, whisky and gin.

Tariffs on some imports will also be cut.

Mr Sunak added: “When I voted for Brexit, I voted to remove the red tape, I voted for British businesses to enjoy unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific.

“Our accession to the CPTPP does exactly this.”

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Britain’s accession was formally announced in the early hours of Friday morning, just hours before new figures showed the economy grew at the end of last year.

GDP went up by 0.1 percent in the final quarter of 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics, meaning the UK avoided going into recession.

Mr Sunak said it showed that the “underlying fundamentals of the economy are strong”.

Joining the trading bloc represents a continuation of the post-Brexit policy “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific region initiated by Boris Johnson.

The CPTPP currently comprises 11 economies, including Australia, Japan, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam.

The grouping has a combined GDP of £9 trillion – a figure that will rise to £11 trillion when the UK formally joins next year, accounting for around 15 percent of the global economy.

Officials said it would provide a significant boost for exporters in sectors including food, drink and cars.

Controversially, tariffs on imports of palm oil will be reduced, despite concerns about the impact of the industry on the environment.

The inclusion of Malaysia in the deal is seen as a key prize as the UK currently has no trade deal with the fast-growing economy, which levies tariffs of as much as 165 percent on imports of Scotch whisky.

The deal is a significant coup for Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who has spent months hammering out the details.

Ms Badencoh hailed the move, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Think of it like us buying a start-up. It’s not about what it’s doing today, but about the potential for growth tomorrow.

“And the CPTPP countries have over 500 million people at the moment, and we’re starting trade relationship with them that’s going to go into the future for many decades and deliver a lot of growth to the UK.”

She promised the deal is “not going to displace farmers in the UK” and said it will provide more competition for EU countries so “people don’t have to buy what they don’t want”.

Ms Badenoch said the UK will have “more influence” on sustainability as part of the bloc – despite Greenpeace calling the deal “outrageous”.

Whitehall sources dismissed suggestions that Britain is simply swapping the EU for another unwieldy trade block. “It is nothing like the EU,” said one source. “It doesn’t have a court, a parliament, a budget, a civil service or a flag. It’s a very good trade deal but that’s all it is.”

Tory Brexiteers heaped praise on the deal and it was also welcomed by Sir Keir Starmer.

Lee Anderson, deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, described it as a “Brexit Bonus” while Commons leader Penny Mordaunt said it was a “Massive milestone in the UK’s post-Brexit path.”

“It will deliver growth and higher wage jobs for Britain,” she said.

Tory MP Mark Jenksinson said: “Worth £11 trillion, we’re unlocking the great benefits of Brexit – bolstering international trade, boosting our economy, helping UK agriculture and creating lots and lots of jobs.”

Former Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who played a vital role in the UK’s accession to the bloc during her time as Trade Secretary, said: “I’m delighted negotiations are complete, deepening UK access to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

“This is a vital development as we seek to boost UK exports to new markets and deliver additional economic growth.”

Sir Keir cautiously welcomed the deal: “I do think it’s an important trade deal, but the yield is very small. Hopefully that will grow over time,” he said.

Officials said the services industry would enjoy reduced red tape and increased market access under the deal.

They added that vital UK sectors, including agriculture and the NHS, will be protected, while animal welfare and food safety standards will be maintained.

National Farmers’ Union President Minette Batters said: “Joining the CPTPP could provide some good opportunities to get more fantastic British food on plates overseas.

“I am pleased that our government continues to maintain its commitment to our food safety standards. It is an absolute red line for us that food produced using practices that are illegal here – for instance, the use of hormones in beef and pork production and chemical washes for carcases – should not be allowed on our market.”

The CBI welcomed the agreement as a “milestone” for British industry, reinforcing the UK’s commitment “to building partnerships in an increasingly fragmented world”.

Pool row PM keeps head above water

Rishi Sunak has declared “people can make up their own minds” over whether he is in touch with the struggles of normal people, writes Michael Knowles, Daily Express Home Affairs Editor.

The Prime Minister has faced criticism over his heated swimming pool.

But Mr Sunak has made ending the cost-of-living crisis one of his five priorities, focusing on slashing inflation and protecting people from spiralling energy bills.

The PM has a gym and tennis court as well as the pool built in the grounds of his grade-II listed manor house in his Richmond seat.

During a visit to Darlington for May’s local elections, Mr Sunak faced questions over reports his heated pool uses so much energy the local electricity network had to be upgraded.

Pressed by local broadcasters on whether that makes him out of touch, the Prime Minister insisted he had taxed the windfall profits of oil companies to ease energy bills.

Mr Sunak, who visited a community centre and spoke to people at a bus stop, said: “People can make up their own minds if that support is sufficient enough.”

He added: “I want to put more money in their pockets, we’re only going to be able to do that if we get inflation down.”

Last week Mr Sunak released a summary of his tax return, showing he earned around £4.8million over the last three years.

Environmental protestors wearing swimming trunks, flip flops and scuba diving gear have queued outside Rishi Sunak’s mansion this week waiting to take a dip.

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