New Zealand’s Deputy PM says Brexit negotiators are ‘not match fit’ to hammer out trade deals

New Zealand’s Deputy PM says British negotiators are ‘not match fit’ to hammer out global trade deals as he compares Brexit team to cricketers ‘trying to win the Ashes having not played the game for 30 years’ after decades in EU

  • Officials in trade talks with New Zealand, Japan, Australia, the US and the EU
  • But Winston Peters said he was ‘very frustrated’ by the pace of negotiations
  • He claimed Britain wasn’t ‘match fit’ having not sorted its own deals since 1973 

Britain’s bid to complete several global trade deals at once as it leaves the EU has been compared to a cricketer trying to win the Ashes without playing in 30 years.

New Zealand’s deputy prime minister said Britain is not ‘match fit’ for international negotiations as he blamed Boris Johnson and his team for slow progress towards post-Brexit agreements, the Telegraph reports.

Officials are in formal trade talks with Japan, Australia and the US as well as New Zealand and the EU itself, and racing to get deals rubber-stamped before the end of the transition period on December 31.

Winston Peters, New Zealand’s deputy prime minister, compared Britain’s bid to complete several global trade deals at once to a cricketer trying to win the Ashes without playing in 30 years

Jacinda Ardern’s deputy, Winston Peters, admitted he was ‘very frustrated’ at the slow pace of negotiations and blamed Britain’s apparent inability to complete deals with multiple countries simultaneously on its 47-year membership with the EU.

The UK has not negotiated a trade deal itself since it joined the bloc in 1973, as the European Commission heads up negotiations on behalf of all its members with other nations around the globe, including New Zealand, which is in full control of its own deals. 

Mr Peters said: ‘We’ve had to look offshore for a long time and so we are seriously match fit when it comes to that, in a way that I don’t believe that the UK is because the UK has been locked up in the EU all these years.

‘In terms of their trading skills and finesse and their firepower – without being critical – they’ve never had an outing lately. 

‘They’ve never had a test, so to speak. It’s like coming into an Ashes contest when you haven’t played for 30 years – it’s the same thing in the UK when it comes to this.’

His comments come as it was claimed this week the UK’s trade deal with Japan is being held up by demands over cheese.

Trade Secretary Liz Truss is believed to be insisting on better terms for agricultural exports, and Stilton in particular.

The two sides had been hoping to finalise the post-Brexit pact by now, but the process has been delayed by last-minute haggling – although there are still hopes it will be completed this month.