It would have been difficult to agree more with Labour MP Liam Byrne’s remarks about senior Tory Kemi Badenoch’s declarations on the economic benefits of the UK joining the distant Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Ms Badenoch, Secretary of State for Business and Trade, has distanced herself from her own civil servants’ economic forecasts in relation to the CPTPP accession, a deal over which the UK Government has to put it mildly made a big song and dance.

So great has been the palaver that arch-Brexiters with precious little expertise on international trade have been bandying about the “CPTPP” initials, proclaiming this agreement is just the ticket.

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The distancing by Ms Badenoch is perhaps not surprising, given that the detailed analysis of the civil servants came up with a very small number for the economic benefits of joining the distant Indo-Pacific bloc, but more of that later.

The Business and Trade Committee chaired by Mr Byrne, publishing its report on the CPTPP deal on Monday, emphasised that Ms Badenoch had when she gave evidence to it “distanced herself from economic modelling produced by her own civil servants”.

It quoted her comments, “I am very sceptical of a lot of modelling” and “I personally do not really like talking about the model”, noting she had referred to it as a “statutory requirement”.

MPs on the committee called on Monday for the UK Government to “allow lawmakers a debate and a vote on joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc”.

And the committee’s observations, you would think, should make uncomfortable reading for Ms Badenoch and fellow members of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Brexiter-filled Cabinet.

That said, embarrassment has not been something that has appeared to come naturally, or even at all, to the current vintage of Conservatives, with these individuals seeming predisposed to declining to accept responsibility for their numerous policy failures and to claiming someone or something else is to blame.

When the Business and Trade Committee’s report was published on Monday, Mr Byrne said: “If we want our economy to grow faster, we need to trade more. Today, the Government’s target of covering 80% of trade with free trade agreements is beyond reach and we are off-track to meet the target of £1 trillion of exports by 2030. That is why CPTPP is important. But, for all its merits or drawbacks, if we’re serious about parliamentary sovereignty, Government must let MPs debate the deal and vote on it.”

He was not finished there.

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Mr Byrne added: “But if we want [to] get serious about these debates, we need some hard-headed analysis of the economic benefits of the trade deals ministers propose to sign. It is simply not good enough for Secretaries of State to cast aside numbers produced by their own department, without providing their own figures.”

This is, indeed, “simply not good enough”.

The committee says MPs must have their say because of controversial aspects of joining the CPTPP trade bloc - and the lack of clarity over the benefits of doing so.

The MPs on the committee conclude it is “difficult to estimate the potential benefits of CPTPP or its impact on economic growth”.

Global Justice Now, formerly the World Development Movement and an organisation which describes itself as “part of a global movement to create a more just and equal world”, made plain its desire for MPs to be given a “real democratic say” on international agreements.

Cleodie Rickard, trade campaign manager at Global Justice Now, said: “We welcome the Business and Trade Committee's call for MPs to be given the power to properly scrutinise the UK's accession to the Pacific trade deal. They have highlighted the dangerous lack of transparency and accountability in UK trade agreements, which we've long condemned. It is downright scandalous that international agreements with such far-reaching impacts are rushed through with little to no democratic oversight. MPs deserve a real democratic say.”

The committee considered how CPTPP membership will affect UK safeguards relating to imports of controversial agri-food products.

These, it notes, include beef and pork treated with growth promoters (meat which is currently banned in the UK), agri-food products produced using pesticides that cannot be used in the UK, and palm oil linked to deforestation.

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The committee says in its report: “The terms of UK accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership raise contentious issues.”

MPs on the committee heard about CPTPP provisions allowing governments to be sued by foreign investors over actions that damage their profits - and claims that this part of the agreement could limit the UK Government’s ability to regulate or nationalise the English water industry.

Ms Rickard said: “Among the most worrying parts of the Pacific trade deal are investment protection - or 'ISDS' - provisions, which empower foreign investors to challenge our economic and environmental security. As it has already done with Australia and New Zealand, the government must seek separate agreements with all CPTPP member countries to remove these provisions from the deal.”

This suggestion seems like simple common sense. Who would want to be bound by such provisions at all, let alone for minimal gain?

Incidentally, Ms Badenoch’s appearance before the Business and Trade Committee last month, from a viewer’s perspective, verged on the surreal.

Ms Badenoch pointed the finger for the UK’s failure to meet its target of having 80% of its trade covered by free trade agreements - which the Conservatives said back in 2019 would be achieved by the end of 2022 - at US President Joe Biden.

She declared: “The biggest thing that had an impact on us reaching that objective was the change in administration from President Trump to President Biden. We were carrying out negotiations for a US FTA but, when the administration changed, the Biden administration just is not doing FTAs.”

The Business and Trade Committee points out that any debate and vote on the CPTPP trade deal would need to take place during a period of just a few weeks when Parliament has the power to delay ratification of an international agreement by the Government. Time is clearly of the essence.

In its report, the committee says: “We recommend that during the 21-day scrutiny period under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the Government facilitate a debate on the Floor of the House on a substantive motion on the ratification of UK accession to the agreement. The Secretary of State for Business and Trade should write to the Leader of the House, setting out the case for holding such a debate in Government time.”

The result of such a vote might be a foregone conclusion, given that a significant number of Tories who opposed Brexit in the House of Commons before Boris Johnson’s election victory are no longer MPs and the current composition of the Conservative benches. Nevertheless, the reality of the UK joining the CPTPP must be subjected to scrutiny and debate.

Office for Budget Responsibility chairman Richard Hughes, when asked in March 2023 by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg about how much stronger the UK economy would be had the country stayed in the EU, replied: “We think that in the long run it reduces our overall output by around 4% compared with had we remained in the EU.”

The Business and Trade Committee notes in its report that the UK Government’s impact assessment stated that, according to econometric modelling by the Department for Business and Trade, CPTPP accession “could boost UK GDP by around £2.0 billion a year when compared to projected GDP in 2040”, and that “this is equivalent to 0.09% of UK GDP in 2021”.

For the avoidance of doubt, the OBR’s estimate of the Brexit cost, at 4% of GDP, is more than 44 times the UK Government’s projection, through the Department for Business and Trade, of the CPTPP gain.

You can see why the Brexiters are not shouting the 0.09% figure from the rooftops.