Stilton drives wedge between UK-Japan Brexit deal

Marco Green
August 12, 2020

Boris Johnson's government and Tokyo want to finalise a post-Brexit deal by the end of the month.

However, after reaching a broad consensus over auto tariffs and going "significantly" further than expected in sectors such as financial services, they reportedly reached a stalemate over Stilton after Truss insisted on making it part of the negotiations.

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However, there is speculation that Tokyo could consider lowering the barriers to blue-veined cheeses given the relatively small costs involved.

United Kingdom and Japanese negotiators had already reached a preliminary deal during recent talks in London in what Downing Street has been bigging up as its first post-Brexit trade deal.

Stilton is an English cheese which is blue, semi-soft, crumbly and creamy.

But after reaching agreement on auto tariffs and financial services, global trade secretary Liz Truss has insisted Britain's iconic cheese - Stilton - be added to a final deal.

At that point, the United Kingdom will no longer be included in the EU's existing trade deals with third countries, including its agreement with Japan.

The Department for International Trade declined to say more about the report, other than that talks are ongoing and point to Ms Truss's comments from Friday, when she said a consensus had been reached between the United Kingdom and Japan and said a deal was expected by the end of the month. They have finalized terms for the sale of cars and are believed to be close to agreeing terms on financial services trade between the two nations.

Truss is known as a staunch defender of Britain's cheese industry, once declaring the country's importing of cheese a "disgrace".

Last year, the UK's blue cheese exports amounted to £18m, but just £102,000 went to Japanese companies.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said last week that talks were "positive and constructive" and there was agreement on the "major elements of a deal".

Truss is a vocal backer of British cheese, saying at a 2014 Conservative Party conference that it was a "disgrace" that the United Kingdom imports "two-thirds of our cheese".

"But the struggle to secure a trade deal with Japan must not distract from the fact that our most important trading partner is, and will remain, the European Union".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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