Andrew Neil: Project Fear scaremongers got it wrong - Brexit is creating a global Britain
Britain has signed its first post-Brexit trade deal with Australia
We were told they would take over 10 years to do. We were assured we didn’t have the expertise to do them. Yet in very short order every free trade deal we had via the European Union has been rolled over to be with the UK, in some cases, like Japan, improving them along the way.
And now we’ve done an entirely new free trade deal with our friends in Australia, the first post-Brexit deal of its kind.
New Zealand and Canada can’t be far behind. Though India and the US will be tougher nuts to crack.
The agreement is not a game changer but it will see tariff free trade grow by about 15% in the years ahead. More British exports of whisky, pharmaceuticals, cars and machinery to Oz. Plus new openings for Britain’s world class service sector. And cheaper Australian wine, beef and lamb for us.
British farmers are apprehensive about this extra competition but at the moment only 1% of Australian meat exports come to Britain so there’s plenty of scope for growth, and for Oz meat still to remain a small part of our meat consumption.
Plus the deal is phased in over 15 years, so there’s plenty of time for British farming to adapt. Government has a duty to listen to farmers. But it has a bigger duty to look after consumers, who benefit from cheap, high quality produce. That’s especially true of poorer families who spend a big proportion of their income on food.
When it comes to vested interests versus the interests of the people a government which wants to hold on to the Red Wall would be wise to side with the people.
The deal also makes it easier for young Brits to get two-year visas to visit Australia and the age cap is lifted to 35. They should go. It’s a great country. But perhaps the most important feature of this deal between age-old friends and allies is that, for Britain, it opens the door to membership of the Trans Pacific Partnership. That’s an $8 trillion free trade area encompassing some of the fastest growing economies on the other side of the world.
If America joins too we’d effectively get a free deal with them thrown in. What’s not like?