Jacob Rees-Mogg said there is little evidence to conclude Brexit has harmed UK trade – despite a mountain of proof suggesting otherwise.
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.
‘It’s Covid, not Brexit’, Mogg insists
And fresh data on ONS trade has revealed UK exports to the bloc have dropped by £20 billion since 2018, The National has reported.
Despite what official information says, 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.”
Meanwhile, a British Chambers of Commerce survey has revealed that just under three in four UK exporters think the Brexit deal struck by Boris Johnson with the EU is not supporting them in growing their sales.
The results, saw 71 per cent of British businesses admitting the deal is not helpful to them – and that the majority of businesses also think Brexit “pushed up costs, increased paperwork and delays, and put the UK at a competitive disadvantage”, according to City A.M.
The BCC revealed UK companies are often complaining about the lack of time and money they have to deal with post-Brexit bureaucracy, and the fact that some EU customers have walked away from them because of the new red tape.
Last week, Scotland Food and Drink dismissed claims that Brexit has helped “global Britain” flourish.
After Rees-Mogg’s appointment as minister for Brexit Opportunities, the Scottish industry body’s chief executive James Withers admitted he has not found a single benefit, highlighting UK businesses gave up on trading with EU firms.
Withers also criticised the “tsunami” of bureaucracy UK businesses have to put up with since the UK’s exit from the European Union, whilst warning the situation will get worse.
Last October, the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed Brexit hurt both imports from and exports to the EU, forecasting a 15 per cent drop.