$11 Trillion

$11 trillion is a big number. That’s what’s on offer to the UK by joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world’s largest free-trade areas. Why wouldn’t anyone get excited by the promise of such affluence? OK, it’s on the other side of the world to us but let’s not get bogged down in the details.

MP Mark Jenkinson was, like many of his colleagues, effusive in his praise of the deal, tweeting:

The UK has today joined the CPTPP  Worth £11 trillion, we’re unlocking the great benefits of Brexit – bolstering international trade, boosting our economy, helping UK agriculture and creating lots and lots of jobs.

But wait on. It turns out that $11 trillion is the total GDP of the member countries and not the amount the deal is worth. Thank goodness as this amounts to more than three times the UK’s economy and, while I welcome growth, such levels of increase would blow us all up.

We also have existing free trade agreements on place with 9 of the countries in the trading block, not counting Brunei and Malaysia. The government’s own estimates are that the new deal will add 0.08% to the size of the UK’s economy over the next ten years. Still a sizable number but more realistic than the $11 trillion.

The poor old BBC got a bashing from the right wing for daring to state facts by saying ‘And even with some gains in trading the government only estimates it will add 0.08% to the size of the economy in 10 years. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which provides forecasts for the government, has previously said Brexit would reduce the UK’s potential economic growth by about 4% in the long term.’ Clearly the BBC does not believe enough.

The government has also announced that ‘Unlike EU membership, joining does not require the UK to cede control over our laws, borders, or money.’ However, according to Minako Morita-Jaeger, an International Trade Policy Consultant and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, ‘Joining the CPTPP requires compliance with existing CPTPP rules and accession will require the UK to demonstrate that UK domestic laws and regulations comply with CPTPP obligations. And, if not, the UK has to identify the necessary changes to its domestic laws and regulations for compliance. Until CPTPP members acknowledge the UK’s assent to CPTPP rules, market access negotiations will not start.’

So much for £11 trillion. So much for sovereignty. So much for maintaining standards and so much for net-zero.

Someone once in 30’s Germany said ‘Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.’ The $11 trillion is a lie. Not having to cede UK law is a lie. They are big, simple lies which will be repeated over and over again. Perhaps this is one for Gary Lineker.

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