Michael Gove has told parliament that the reintroduction of freeports will be an advantage of the UK leaving the EU.
Speaking to the House of Commons yesterday, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Freeports are one of the many advantages that all the nations of the United Kingdom could enjoy as a result of our departure from the European Union”.
He added: “Freeports will allow investment in every part of the United Kingdom and I’m looking forward to working with partners in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in order to make sure that we can seize the opportunities that Brexit provides for our coastal communities.”
Up until 2012, Britain was home to several freeports – special economic zones where business and trade laws differ from those in the rest of the country, allowing goods to be landed, stored, handled, manufactured or reconfigured and re-exported without being subject to customs duty.
These freeports were scrapped by David Cameron’s Conservative government in 2012, however, choosing not to renew the UK legislation establishing them. Michael Gove failed to acknowledge this, as well as the fact that the EU is currently home to around 80 freeports.
This news follows Boris Johnson’s insistence that the UK doesn’t have freeports “because of our membership to the UK”, back in 2019.
Rishi Sunak has also inaccurately claimed that “the EU is pretty much the only place in the world that doesn’t use free ports”.
The renewed discussion over the reimplementation of freeports has caused plenty of criticism, with social media users ridiculing Gove’s statement, based on the already existing freeports in the EU, as well voicing concerns over issues such as tax avoidance.
Peter Stefanovic tweeted a video, followed by “Imagine his shock when he finds out there are about 80 of them in the EU”.
Another tweeted the video along with, “Michael Gove lying at the despatch box.”