The UK’s negotiating team – led by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss – aims to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with Australia ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall on June 11. sparked a backlash from farmers, who warned they were threatened by a wave of meat imports from Australia that could flood the market under a free trade agreement. Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon argued Scotland was “excluded” from a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia and warned the deal would be a “betrayal” of British farmers.
The Department for International Trade denied this claim, insisting that engagement “takes place with all parts of the UK at all levels”.
A spokeswoman added: ‘Trade ministers have discussed this with Scottish ministers throughout the process, most recently this week, and will continue to do so as we move forward in the negotiations.
“Any deal we sign will include protections for the agricultural sector and will not put UK farmers at risk or our high standards.”
But a spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon raged: ‘Just telling the Scottish government and other decentralized administrations what UK ministers have already decided unilaterally is not a commitment in any meaningful sense.’
Now Professor Alex de Ruyter, director of the Birmingham University Center for Brexit Studies, has warned that the trade deal could backfire on the PM, as areas of Scotland least likely to vote for the SNP could be the most affected.
He suggested that the potential impact on farming communities across Scotland could provide the SNP with an opportunity to attack Westminster to be “disconnected” and therefore build support in areas where the party is not so. popular.
The political expert said: “Most of the beef and lamb in the UK tends to come from Wales and Scotland. Who in the UK will be most affected in terms of the farming community? – it will be those of the Highlands and Perthshire and those kinds of areas.
“These communities were the least likely to vote for the SNP.”
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“I would be interested to see what would happen if the UK government negotiates a trade deal that gives, by way of argument, US drug companies the right to charge boards of health higher prices.
“When the functional responsibility for this Glasgow board of health falls to the Scottish government, if they say no, what happens then? You then find yourself in a situation where the UK government might try to take away that power – that would be one of those things. you would see going to the Supreme Court.
The politician, from Australia, said the benefits the UK would see if the proposed trade deal were to be signed could be minimal.
He added: “If you are talking about things like manufacturing, the tariff regime in Australia on manufacturers is insignificant or nonexistent.
“So I don’t really expect a windfall for UK manufacturers for obvious reasons, as companies tend to produce and sell in the regions where they are based.
“This is one of the ironies of Brexit – there was a good reason half of our trade was with the EU, because geography matters.
“Australia is actually very strong in areas where the UK thinks it has an advantage. We have the big four banks in this country, as does Australia.
“If you think of a local example in Scotland, the Clydesdale Bank was until recently owned by the National Australia Bank. I don’t really expect a windfall for UK financial services, otherwise they would be there already. “