Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”We’ve secured new free trade deals with over 70 countries since 2016. That’s over £800 billion worth of new global trade”

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, Twitter

Facts

Michael Gove tweeted that “We’ve secured new free trade deals with over 70 countries since 2016. That’s over £800 billion worth of new global trade.” The graphic was then shared by the Conservative party, as well as a number of other Tory MPs.

As Full Fact pointed out, implying that the trade deals account for £800bn in “new” global trade is misleading. The figure refers to the total value of trade between the UK and countries it has agreed trade deals with, not the value that they add. 

Additionally, most of these “new” deals are actually ‘rollover deals’, which means they copied the terms of deals the UK previously had when it was an EU member, rather than creating new trading arrangements. The BBC reported that the UK has signed rollover trade deals with 69 of the countries which it had traded with under the terms of EU agreements before Brexit.

Sir Robert Chote, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, reprimanded the Conservative Party as follows: “Under the principles of intelligent transparency, we would expect the infographic to include a source for the figure so that the public can verify the numbers, understand the definitions used and put the data into context…More specifically in this case, it is misleading to describe the £800bn figure as a measure of ‘new global trade’ resulting from the recent deals. That would imply that there had been no trade with these countries before the recent deals and that there would be none now without them.

“We have spoken to the Conservative party and asked that any future communications include a link or reference to the source of statistics. We have also requested that the party be more transparent about the context and assumptions that have been made to construct such statements and infographics.”

Verdict

Michael Gove was misleading voters when he claimed that new Brexit deals accounted for “over £800 billion worth of new global trade.” The Conservative Party was rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority as a result. 

Additional Note: This false claim about global trade by Michael Gove is one of numerous falsehoods and misleading statements uttered  by Mr Gove and other government ministers about Brexit. Three days earlier Mr Gove had made the equally false claim that “We wouldn’t have had the vaccine roll-out that was so successful if we had been within the European Union.” The same day he claimed that “On balance Brexit has been a significant success for this country”

We emailed Mr Gove’s office offering him the chance to respond. The email was received, but no reply.

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