Leavers are being reminded of the time they claimed the EU deal is “one of the easiest in human history”.
It comes as Brexit secretary David Frost has resigned in a critical moment of “getting Brexit done”, prime minister Boris Johnson’s key promise in the 2019 general election and the latest one to be at risk of being broken.
The situation is somehow worsened by resurfaced claims from former international trade secretary Liam Fox.
EU deal ‘one of the easiest in human history’
On securing a deal with the EU, Fox claimed in 2017 that a free trade agreement with the EU should be “one of the easiest in human history”.
And GB News political commentator Tom Harwood gloated exactly one year ago that wrapping up an FTA in only 11 months means it has been.
“Many used to mock Brexiteers, arguing this would take at least a decade,” he tweeted at the time.
But now a Daily Mail ‘exclusive’ revealed Frost has resigned as Brexit Secretary because of growing ‘disillusionment’ with the ‘direction’ of Tory policy.
It is understood that his departure had been prompted by the introduction of ‘Plan B’ Covid measures, including vaccine passports.
A senior government source said he had also become frustrated with tax rises and the staggering cost of ‘net zero’ environmental policies.
But the move comes at a delicate time in the Brexit process. On Friday, it was announced the UK had abandoned its attempt to strip EU judges of the power to oversee the Northern Ireland protocol.
The U-turn – denied by Downing Street just days ago – would allow the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to interpret the agreement, despite repeated Tory pledges to “remove” its role.
The resignation also comes after Lord Frost also pulled back from threats to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol, despite Unionist anger over the trade barrier created in the Irish Sea.
EU membership ‘benefits’ admitted by David Frost
In October, Frost admitted trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland has gone up since Brexit – but suggested it cannot keep benefitting from the EU’s single market, as this would hurt the UK.
Martin McTague, policy and advocacy chairman at the Federation of Small Business, warned at the time that the post-Brexit Irish trade success will “inevitably” weaken the links with Britain and “put pressure on the Union”.
Before the EU referendum, Frost admitted that the single market and customs union were major benefits of being part of the EU, and that leaving them would cost every UK resident £1,500 per year.
He told a Scottish Parliament committee in 2015: “When we get to the referendum, I hope it is a real debate about everything that Europe offers. You mentioned quite a few of those things: I would add the single market and single trade policy to that.
“Although estimates vary about how much wealth the single market generates for the UK, since we joined, it’s probably in the order of five, six seven, eight per cent uplift to GDP.
“For somebody on an average salary that’s about £1,500 a year. Most people think that that’s worth having. I think when you put it in those terms, there’s a very clear benefit, that because we don’t see it every day, we’ve kind of forgotten about it. But it is there, and we’d begin to lose it if we weren’t part of it.”