"We have done 68 free trade deals, and that great free trade deal with our friends in the EU"

Boris Johnson, Conservative party conference speech

October 6, 2021

Facts

Boris Johnson was correct that deals had been done with 68 countries, but nearly all of these deals - 63 of them in total - were “rollover” deals. That means that they copied the terms of deals the UK already had when it was an EU member, rather than creating any new benefits.

The deals with Japan, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein that the UK had signed at the time of this speech, are the only new ones. By then a deal with Australia was also agreed in principle. 

But by far the most important agreement - the one with the EU itself - creates additional barriers to trade which were not there when the UK was part of the EU single market, particularly for services.

Verdict 

While this statement from Johnson was correct, he did not give Tory activists anything like the full context of the trade deals, meaning that his statement was misleading. 

As usual we sent this analysis to Boris Johnson for comment. No response.

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