UK criticised for ‘unforced errors’ on trade deals – FT
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- Boris Johnson’s government has made “unforced errors” by rushing into trade negotiations with third countries before resolving its regulatory position on key issues such as food standards, according to one of the UK’s most respected think-tanks.
- The Institute for Government warned that Mr Johnson risked throwing away Britain’s new-found regulatory autonomy after Brexit by succumbing to pressure from countries to lower standards to secure trade deals.
- The findings, published on Monday, said the internal Whitehall dispute over whether to allow certain US foodstuffs into Britain, including chicken dipped in chlorine baths, was a symptom of more trouble to come.
- The report calls on the government to adopt a more “co-operative approach with the devolved administrations”, to clarify its regulatory red lines and to develop stronger internal decision-making structures, including fully involving arm’s length regulators.
- It also suggests giving parliament a greater power of scrutiny over trade deals and regulatory changes. “Negotiators will benefit from being able to point to difficult stakeholders back home,” the report says.
- The government insisted that countries like New Zealand had shown it was possible to have liberal trade policies and retain the highest regulatory standards.
- It said it was committed to a transparent approach to trade negotiations including updates to parliament and that MPs could block any deal they did not like.