BRITAIN has signed a bumper trade deal with Turkey today as the ink on the EU agreement was still drying.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed off a £18.6bn pact yesterday as Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the nation can now “do things a bit differently” after sealing the Christmas Brexit deal.
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The latest agreement, which comes into effect on January 1, provides a major boost for British car industry, manufacturing and steel industries and lays the groundwork for an enhanced relationship in the future.
Trade between the two countries was worth more than $25billion in 2019.
Today’s deal will secure existing preferential tariffs for some 7,600 British businesses that exported goods to Turkey in 2019.
So farm Ms Truss and her team have now agreed trade deals with 62 countries, alongside the new EU deal – accounting for around £885bn of UK trade.
She said: “Today’s deal covers trade worth more than £18 billion, delivers vital certainty for business and supports thousands of jobs across the UK in the manufacturing, automotive and steel industries.
“It paves the way for a new, more ambitious deal with Turkey in the near future, and is part of our plan to put the UK at the centre of a network of modern agreements with dynamic economies.”
And the Trade Secretary vowed the extra deal would help boost the UK’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
A UK trade source added: “We needed to get the EU deal over the line in order to do this.
“It’s one of the biggest single trade deals we’ve done, and is really important for our steel and car industries.
“A very welcome belated Christmas present delivered by Liz – she’s had a hell of a year.”
Mr Sunak said he was examining how to turn London into a global financial powerhouse now the shackles of the EU have been freed.
A very welcome belated Christmas present delivered by Liz – she’s had a hell of a year
Speaking yesterday he said he was “examining how we make the City of London the most attractive place to list new companies anywhere in the world.”
He added: “But this deal also provides reassurance because there’s a stable, regulatory co-operative framework mentioned in the deal which I think will give people that reassurance that we will remain in close dialogue with our European partners.”
Boris Johnson also rubbished forecasts the deal will wipe off five per cent of GDP saying: “Freedom is what you make of it.”
Downing Street has been preparing a last-ditch blitz to ensure businesses and the public are ready for the end of the transition period.
Senior Cabinet Michael Gove said: “The deal is done, but with big change comes challenge and opportunity.
“The nature of our new relationship with the EU – outside the Single Market and Customs Union – means that there are practical and procedural changes that businesses and citizens need to get ready for, and time to make these final preparations is very short.”
It emerged that Britain will be able to tear up its deal with the EU if it ignores “concerns” over potential new members like Turkey.
EU chiefs will have to listen to Downing Street if new countries, like Turkey, Albania and Serbia join the bloc or face renegotiating aspects of the agreement.
Visitors from new EU member countries could also be blocked from having visa-free access to the UK.
Tory MPs are set to meet today after the European Research Group’s Star Chamber reports back after going through the deal with a fine tooth comb.
ERG member Andrew Bridgen told The Sun: “Unless the star chamber reports that the treaty is riddled with bear traps, I’ll be obviously voting for it.”
But he argued the deal should be subject to a confirmatory vote in the new year to allow more time for MPs to scrutinise the bill.
He added: “If we signed up for something which wasn’t what we thought it was in haste.
“I think the British public would have some cause for complaint.”
Labour’s Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds urged colleagues not to vote against the deal after Sir Keir Starmer ordered his MPs to back the agreement.
She said: ”I’m not going to say to you that this is the deal that Labour would have secured because it really isn’t – this is a thin deal – but we don’t want to create more problems for businesses right now by preventing the implementation of what the Government has achieved.”
Some Labour MPs have lobbied for the party to instead abstain on the vote so it can effectively hold the Conservatives to account for any financial harm caused by Brexit.
But Sir Keir, who campaigned to remain within the EU, argued “it is not credible for Labour to be on the sidelines.”
The SNP has said it will vote against the post-Brexit trade deal struck with the EU, when the Commons meets on Wednesday.