A post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Japan has reportedly hit a stumbling block because Liz Truss wants the Japanese to have more stilton cheese all to stick it to the EU.
An agreement between the UK and Japan was said to be on the verge of completion, with the end of August said to be a possibility. However, Truss, the international trade secretary, has thrown a smelly blue cheese spanner into the works by demanding that stilton makers are given preferential treatment in the deal in order to get a better deal than what Japan currently has with the European Union.
According to a report from the Financial Times, Truss is hoping that if the deal for stilton is struck then it will be a "symbolic win" for the UK and would demonstrate that the country can achieve better deals than what the EU already has with other countries. The EU and Japan forged a deal last year, which would see the 29 per cent tariffs on hard cheeses phased out by the year 2033 but there will only be duty-free access by that year on an agreed tariff for blue-veined cheese, such as stilton.
This comes amid reported pressure from British farmers towards Boris Johnson to get preferential treatment for the UK's most loved cheeses as they are likely to be hit hard by the loss of EU subsidies, as per Nikkei Asian Review. Yet data cited by the FT from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, show that although the UK did export £18 million worth of blue cheese globally last year, just £102,000 of that went to Japan.
Japan has denied the claims but a statement from Truss remained positive on the progress with the deal:
We have reached consensus on the major elements of a deal, including ambitious provisions in areas like digital, data and financial services that go significantly beyond the EU-Japan deal.
Truss is a staunch defender of the British food production industry and turned heads at the 2014 Tory conference when she gave a bizarre speech where she said that it was a "disgrace" that the UK was actually importing apples from other countries, a speech that has gone down in infamy.
Elsewhere, people are flabbergasted that one of the UK's first major trade deals with another country could be crumbling because of Stilton. Oh, and by the way, the trade negotiations with the EU are currently going nowhere with only five months remaining.
We know that Brexit stinks, but this seems ridiculous...