A Tory MP who campaigned for the Leave Means Leave group has been mocked after complaining about “monstruous” forms that UK businesses now have to fill in after Brexit.
Desmond Swayne suggested British businesses should instead benefit from digital and “seamless” trade with the EU.
Speaking in the Commons, he said: “UK aid promoted trade in Africa by making borders seamless through digitising all the administrative processes.
“Is that on our agenda for trade with the EU at all? It’s monstrous that we’re filling in forms.”
‘Mountains of paperwork and costly red tape’
According to The Independent, international trade minister Mike Freer said the government will improve border systems by 2025 – but the promise won’t entail scrapping customs and veterinary checks, which come with Brexit.
Naomi Smith, CEO of pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain, said: “Brexit has created mountains of paperwork and costly red tape for businesses and for anyone to claim otherwise is betraying either their own duplicity or ignorance.
“We had frictionless trade within the EU but now that Brexit has happened, the government must work to reduce barriers to trade they have created or we will continue to see jobs and businesses move overseas.”
According to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday, Britain’s exports to EU nations have falled by an astonishing £20 billion in only a year and eight months.
Business done by the UK with the European Union has decreased more in 2021 than sales to any other country in the world, data shows.
Jacob Rees-Mogg insists Brexit is ‘beneficial’ and ‘a success’
Despite the figures speaking for themselves, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is the new Brexit opportunities minister, said last month that there is little evidence to conclude Brexit harmed UK trade.
During a trip to the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, the new Brexit opportunities minister said the UK’s exit from the EU has been “extremely beneficial” and “already a success”, whilst promising to “cut through the thicket” of bureaucracy.
But the Tory’s statements seemed to contradict the government’s own report by the Public Accounts Committee, which said the “only detectable impact” of Brexit has been a heavier burden on businesses – and that it is “clear” that Brexit “has had an impact” on UK trade.
Rees-Mogg insisted it was the Covid pandemic that led to the “most enormous disruptions to supply chains”.
He told the BBC: “We’ve had containers simply being stuck the wrong place, being stuck in Chinese ports, being stuck in the port of Los Angeles.
“This has been a global trade issue – and we do have to recover from the problems of Covid.”
He added: “I think Brexit has been extremely beneficial for the country.
“I think the evidence that Brexit has caused trade drops is few and far between.”