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UK-Australia post-Brexit trade deal agreed in broad terms | Politics


Details of a trade deal between the UK and Australia will be announced on Tuesday morning, the Guardian understands.

A Department for International Trade spokesperson confirmed that the broad terms had been struck on Monday night, after Boris Johnson and the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, had dinner at Downing Street.

Further information is set to be released by No 10 at about 9am on Tuesday, an official confirmed. The Guardian understands there are plans for a press conference afterwards.

If confirmed, the deal would be the first to be negotiated from scratch since the UK left the EU in January 2020. The government signed a free trade agreement with Japan in October 2020, which built on the existing arrangement that had been in place between Tokyo and the European Union.

Johnson and Morrison dined on Welsh lamb, Scottish smoked salmon and Australian wine while finalising the agreement, the BBC reported.

Farmers have previously raised concerns about the potential of a zero-tariff and zero-quota trade deal with Australia which could undercut them by cheap imports, affecting the viability of their business.

Other fears include that any agreement could introduce cheaper meat with lower welfare standards into the UK market, hitting British farmers who have operated along higher standards.

The president of the National Farmers’ Union, Minette Batters, told the Observer in May that a deal could have “serious implications for British farming and would seemingly offer very little benefit to the economy”.

On Sunday, the Scotland secretary, Alister Jack, told BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show that there were “safeguards” built into the trade deal “so we don’t see the market swamped or dramatic price reductions”.

The news leaked late on Monday night, hours after Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle had lambasted the government and Johnson for not announcing the four-week delay to England’s Covid-19 roadmap in parliament in person, and going for dinner instead.

He said the decision to brief the announcement to journalists beforehand instead was “entirely unacceptable [and] disrespectful” to constituents, adding: “The prime minister should be here, I’m sorry if his dinner would have been affected. I was told he was in Brussels. I think the nearest brussels tonight was the sprouts in the dinner he was being served.”


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