Streeting – Japanese PM deals May a “humiliating rebuff” on trade

Theresa May has been rebuffed by the Japanese Prime Minister, after she flew to Japan promising to talk trade, but their final press conference contained no mention of any new trade agreement between the UK and Japan.

Instead, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on the Prime Minister to ensure “the minimisation of the impact to companies because of Brexit”, and hoped that “predictability will be ensured.” He said the Prime Minister should listen to Japanese companies which employ 160,000 people in Britain “so she will realise the transition of Brexit in a smooth and orderly way.”

Commenting, Wes Streeting MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:

“Theresa May’s end of summer trip to Japan has turned into a nightmare.

“She went there promising that Britain would be able to copy the EU’s emerging trade deal with Japan. She is leaving with a flea in her ear from the Japanese Prime Minister about the need for a softer Brexit to help the Japanese companies that employ thousands of Britons.

“And Prime Minister Abe did not have one word to say about a potential UK-Japan trade deal, despite Theresa May dragging Liam Fox and half the FTSE to Tokyo with her. This is a humiliating rebuff for our Prime Minister. In the joint press conference even she had dropped any pretence that the UK will get a speedy trade deal with Japan.

“We can’t rely on imaginary future trade deals to support our economy. Instead, the Government needs to guarantee free trade with our closest trading partner – the European Union.”


Notes to editors:

In the joint press conference with Theresa May, Shinzo Abe said: “At present in the UK there are about 1,000 Japanese companies employing 160,000 Britons. For the UK, Japan is the 2nd ranking non-EU investor and therefore Japan and the UK are mutually important. On the question of Brexit, our country would like to have the minimisation of the impact to companies because of Brexit. In the process of negotiation for Brexit, I hope that the transparency and predictability will be ensured. That will be very important. In today’s talks, regarding such points, once again I have presented my requests to Prime Minister May. To this, Prime Minister May said she will be listening to voices of Japanese corporations so she will realise the transition of Brexit in a smooth and orderly way which encouraged me enormously. As Prime Minister May says, the UK is a staunch supporter of free trade.”