The UK’s lead Brexit negotiator admitted before the EU referendum that leaving the single market and customs union would cost every person in the country £1,500 per year.
According to resurfaced comments coming back to haunt David Frost, now among ‘hard’ Brexiteers in the government, the two European economic models were major benefits of being part of the EU.
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.
‘Most people think that’s worth having’
“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.”
His predictions were confirmed by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which recently revealed Brexit will cost Britain around £1,250 over coming years.
But last month Frost insisted the hard Brexit he pursued was “essential”: “History shows us that it is genuine competition – regulatory and commercial – between states which has typically been the most reliable driver of innovation and progress.
“That’s why what some people call ‘hard Brexit’ – in its original sense of leaving the EU customs union and single market – was essential.
“It was the only form of Brexit that allowed us freedom to experiment and freedom to act. This is already happening. And you can see some themes emerging reflecting our different policy preferences in the UK.”
Brexit losses ‘178 times bigger’ than new trade deals
Meanwhile, the government’s own figures have revealed that the UK’s Brexit losses are more than 178 times bigger than any gains from Boris Johnson’s new trade deals.
The tiny economic boost – amounting to just 0.01 to 0.02 per cent of GDP, and less than 50p per person a year – is dwarfed by the economic hit from leaving the EU, which the government estimates at 4 per cent of GDP over the same period.
According to analysis commissioned by The Independent from top academics at the University of Sussex UK Trade Policy Observatory, the much-trumpeted free trade agreements (FTAs) “barely scratch the surface of the UK’s challenge to make up the GDP lost by leaving the EU”.
The analysis notes that the vast majority of FTAs announced by the government – such as those with South Korea, Singapore, or Vietnam – are simply attempts to replace treaties that those countries have with the EU, which Britain previously enjoyed as a member.