Brexit, trade, Covid and questions of trust for Boris Johnson – The Yorkshire Post says

AS LIZ Truss, the International Trade Secretary, lauds the UK’s trade deal with Japan, and benefits for Yorkshire food producers, she should expect it to be treated with a proverbial ‘pinch of salt’.

Wensleydale Cheese's special status could be protected by the UK's trade deal with Japan.

This much is clear at the end of a potentially pivotal week that saw the Government appear to compromise any prospect of a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union and, in doing so, jeopardise any potential deal with the USA due to a high-handed approach over Northern Ireland’s pivotal Good Friday Agreement.

Not even Covid-19 – and misgivings about the extent to which the Government’s ‘rule of six’ restrictions on gatherings compromises civil liberties – masks Britain’s impending isolation unless Boris Johnson can win back the trust of those international partners bemused by a desire on his part to break the ‘rule of law’.

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It can only be hoped that wiser heads in the Cabinet, such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Alok Sharma, the low-profile Business Secretary, can, in fact, prevail before a no-deal Brexit – a high-risk strategy in good times – hits the economy as it begins to make a tentative recovery from the first Covid-19 lockdown.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss speaking to Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi at the Department for International Trade as they formally begin negotiations on a free trade agreement. The UK has secured its first major post-Brexit trade deal after signing an agreement with Japan which will boost trade by an estimated £15 billion. PA Truss said it is a "historic moment" for the two countries which will bring "new wins" for British businesses in the manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries.

Be in no doubt, however, that the devil is in the detail – and that much is clear from the Department for Trade’s official press release which cites an “agreement in principle” with Japan.

Furthermore, it says Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, Yorkshire forced rhubarb, Grimsby smoked fish, Swaledale ewe’s cheese and Dovedale cheese form the list of products from this region that “could” be protected.

Note the use of the word “could” – there are no guarantees – and any dividend might prove to be shortlived if the EU and USA shun Britain on the issue of trust. As such, there’s now much food for thought for an embattled Mr Johnson as Brexit and Covid-19 coalesce on a potentially defining weekend.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson