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Saturday, October 05, 2019

How desperate is Boris to do a trade deal with Trump?

Boris Johnson must be used to the wheels coming off his schemes by now. Since becoming Prime Minister he has failed to win a single vote in the House of Commons, had his prorogation of Parliament overturned, after judges concluded that he had misled the Queen (an offence which in another era might have seen him lose his head), and put forward a rehashed withdrawal deal to the EU, which looks like it will be rejected once again.

Still, he has his good relations with Donald Trump to fall back on, and the promised trade deal. But that deal too, has several obstacles to jump before it can become a reality. The two most obvious hurdles are the pledge to protect the NHS from US predators and the differing food standards. Will UK voters tolerate our red lines being breached on those two issues? We may be about to find out.

According to the Independent, the Prime Minister is scrapping a commitment by Theresa May to stick to EU rules on the environment, safety standards and workers’ rights to raise his chances of getting a trade agreement with Donald Trump.

The paper says that the “level playing field”, included in the Brexit deal negotiated by the former prime minister, was a commitment to abide by rules similar to the EU’s in exchange for market access. However, right-wingers in Mr Johnson’s new cabinet want the commitments downgraded to give the UK more flexibility to lower its standards for American goods:

EU officials say that British negotiators are particularly keen to jettison EU restrictions on genetically modified foods – a key demand of American trade negotiators.

One EU official with knowledge of the Brexit talks suggested US trade officials appeared to have been in contact with British negotiators and told them standards would need to be slashed if there was any chance of a US trade deal.

Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, said scrapping the protections was “vital for giving us the freedom and flexibility to strike new trade deals and become more competitive”.

A cabinet source also told The Sun newspaper: “The level-playing-field promise has to go, and Boris is very clear about this.“It would seriously restrict our ability to deregulate and do trade deals with other countries.”

Could Boris Johnson's legacy become ditching our biggest trade partner to play footsie with Donald Trump, while imposing chlorinated chicken, lower environment standards and an Americanised profit-driven health service on the rest of us?  And that is before we even consider the relaxation of tax rules that could see us being turned into a second rate tax haven for dodgy foreign money.
American trade deals will also be bound up with 'The Irish Question' Lots of US citizens have an Irish background. Pelosi has said no deals with the US if problems with Ireland..A rock or a hard place? Stay in the EU and revoke article 50.
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