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EU would be our trade priority, UK opposition Labour Party says By Reuters


© Reuters. The Port of Felixstowe in Britain is stacked with containers on January 28, 2021. Photo taken January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

By William James

BRIGHTON, England (Reuters) – The opposition Labour Party would make rebuilding Britain’s ties with the European Union its top trade priority, putting the bloc above U.S and Indo-Pacific deals in the post-Brexit era, its trade policy chief Emily Thornberry said on Monday,

Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson is only two years into a possible five-year term, but Labour is using its annual conference in southern England to bill itself as a credible alternative government with Britain beset by fuel shortages, empty shelves and soaring energy prices.

With the aim of attracting premium trade to the rapidly growing middle classes in Asia and an increase in British professionals’ services demand, the government made Indo-Pacific a priority.

Thornberry said that she will instead concentrate on repairing trade relationships closer to home, which has been affected by an increase in bureaucracy as well as a deterioration of diplomatic relations due to the fractious EU exit negotiations.

Thornberry explained that trade is always more straightforward with people who live near you.

Although she called the Christmas Eve 2020 free trade agreement reached with the EU “thin and desperate”, Thornberry said it was possible to expand on this and establish a better working arrangement with Britain’s largest export market.

British exporters have been priced out or completely cut off by new rules since leaving the EU.

Thornberry would like to first reach an agreement with EU regarding problems in food transportation between Britain, the EU and Northern Ireland.

Although the government is open to finding solutions, it will not permanently bind its food standards to EU laws.

Thornberry suggested that the veterinary deal might help to restore trust with Brussels, and also open up the possibility of mini agreements regarding a variety of difficult issues not addressed by the 2020 agreement.

Thornberry stated, “Build on the strengths, fix the weaknesses, be practical, realistic, and be a mature politician, not dogmatic.”

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