Japanese officials have signalled there will be no hurry to begin free trade talks with the UK, in a blow to Theresa May as she visits the country today.
The Prime Minister, who is scrambling to set up new trade agreements to strengthen her Brexit stance, is expected to lobby for a British version of the EU-Japan trade deal that was agreed in principle by the two parties last week.
However, the Financial Times reports that Japanese officials are clear the deal with Brussels takes priority and that negotiations with the UK are unlikely to progress until Britain’s future relationship with the EU becomes apparent.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the government should concentrate on the Brexit negotiations, as they are central to any future trade deals with countries outside of the EU.
Burke said, “The PM and her band of Brexiteers are desperate to cobble together trade deals but are getting nowhere fast it seems.
“Their toadying to Donald Trump for an agreement – which risks UK food standards and the opening up of the NHS to US firms – has resulted in nothing but empty statements from the president and media stunts; such as Liam Fox’s attempt to look busy by holding meetings with Wilbur Ross in the US and his trips to Mexico that nobody knows the outcome to.
“Nor has May’s frantic attempts to set up a deal with the Japanese fared any better.
“The simple truth is that other countries are waiting to see what the outcome of the Brexit negotiations will be before they commit themselves.
“The Tories should stop wasting the nation’s time trying to prove to the electorate that their hopeless hard Brexit plans are working.
“Their entire approach to exiting the EU needs a radical overhaul, starting with the most pressing issue – their painfully inadequate attempts to negotiate a deal with Brussels.”