‘Few and far between!’ Jacob Rees-Mogg claims little evidence Brexit dropped UK trade

Jacob Rees Mogg's new Brexit role pivotal to Boris Johnson

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The new Brexit Minister, 52, said the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union had already proved beneficial and provided the British economy with a boost. He said: “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.”

During a visit to Felixstowe, the UK’s biggest container port, the former chairman of the Brexit-backing European Research Group told journalists: “We’ve had containers simply being stuck in 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.”

Other nations around the world have suffered supply chain issues in recent months, including those outside the EU such as the United States.

The North East Somerset MP went on to suggest he would look at cutting EU red tape.

He said: “We don’t want to replace a European bureaucracy with a home-grown bureaucracy.”

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Mr Rees-Mogg added: “My role as the Brexit Opportunities Minister is to find out where regulations exist that we don’t need, and to try and get rid of them.”

However, Liberal Democrat business spokesperson Sarah Olney, 45, criticised Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments.

She said: “Claims from the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg about Brexit opportunities ring hollow for businesses being drowned in paperwork and delays at our borders.”

The Office for Budget Responsibility has also warned Brexit has affected trade between the UK and European Union.

Additional paperwork and border checks have been imposed between Britain and the Brussels bloc since the UK’s departure.

A cross-party committee of MPs concluded trade had been “suppressed” since the UK left the EU, due to a combination of Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic and global economic problems.

Official trade statistics suggest British exports to the EU in the first ten months of 2021 fell by 12 percent on pre-pandemic levels.

UK imports from the Brussels bloc were also lower than before Covid reached British shores, down by 20 percent.

Annual UK goods imports from outside the European Union have now surpassed the values of those from inside the bloc for the first time since data from the Office for National Statistics began in 1997 with goods from the bloc totalling £22.2billion compared to £25.4billion from all other countries in 2021.

According to City AM, the seasonally adjusted levels of imports from outside the EU stood just shy of £25billion at the end of 2021.

In comparison, imports from the bloc were estimated to be worth around £20billion.

However, there is still somewhat of a recovery from the height of COVID-19, when non-EU imports plunged to as low as £12.7billion and EU imports dipped to £14.8billion.

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When Boris Johnson, 57, became Prime Minister before Brexit in July 2019, the seasonally adjusted value of EU imports was estimated to be worth £22billion and non-EU imports were thought to be worth £19billion.

Speaking about the impact of Brexit, Cornelius Clarke, from the global financial services firm Ebury, said: “Evidently the end of the Brexit transition period has impacted trading relationships that many UK businesses have with their EU counterparts.

“Other factors at play were the restrictions faced by lorry drivers in response to the Alpha variant at the start of 2021 alongside global supply chain bottlenecks.”

However, he added: “The ongoing free-trade negotiations with India could also present a significant opportunity for UK importers too in lowering costs and barriers to trade with a rapidly growing global economic superpower.”

The UK has already signed four bespoke post-Brexit trade deals with Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the Brussels bloc.

Britain has also rolled over more than 60 EU trade arrangements, stretching from Kenya to Kosovo and Switzerland to Singapore.

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