Peter Black has laid out in detail what was factually incorrect about government's gloss on the Japan trade deal and also on its attempted correction. Alex Thomas of the Institute for Government draws a general conclusion from this and other incidents:
The civil servant responsible for the Department for International Trade’s twitter account might in future pause before mixing baking and government messaging. As many trade experts rapidly pointed out, the department’s claim on Twitter, sent out during an episode of The Great British Bake Off, that soy sauce “will be made cheaper thanks to our trade deal with Japan” was not accurate. The following day, DIT issued a convoluted clarification that it “will be cheaper than it otherwise would be under WTO terms, on which we would be trading with Japan from 1 Jan if we had not secured the UK-Japan trade deal”.
The soya social media flurry was a trivial incident in itself, but it was the latest in a line of misleading messages from departmental twitter accounts. In August Matthew Rycroft, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, publicly accepted that the description of “activist lawyers” who were trying to “delay and disrupt returns” of migrants should not have been tweeted from the Home Office account. The Northern Ireland Office, meanwhile, continues to maintain its assertion that “there will be no border in the Irish Sea between GB & NI”, convincing no-one of anything except an ability to dance on semantic pinheads, and despite officials on both sides of the Irish Sea working hard to implement an array of the checks necessary to cross what becomes a trade border between GB and the EU.
This increasing abuse of official communications is a problem which needs to be addressed.