Brexit has not damaged UK trade with EU, report reveals
Sombre ex-PM speaks out on visit to scene of kibbutz massacre
BREXIT has not damaged the UK’s trade with the European Union despite dire warnings from Remainers, a report argues today.
Exports of goods and services have continued to rise since Britain left the EU, according to analysis by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) think-tank.
Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch will today argue that this growth contradicts the ‘narrative that Brexit has severely damaged our economy’.
She is expected to say that the figures show Britain should ‘stop talking ourselves down, and instead talk ourselves up’.
After the Brexit vote in June 2016, many gloomy economists and Remainers suggested the move would harm UK businesses by making trade harder with companies on the Continent.
The Office for Budget Responsibility, the Government’s fiscal watchdog, predicted in 2021 that new barriers linked to Brexit would result in a 15 per cent drop in trade volumes, contributing to a 4 per cent hit to the economy in the long run.
It argued that this lower trade would be driven by stunted investment in Britain due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit.
But the IEA has now argued that the outlook is much brighter. UK goods exports jumped by 13.5 per cent to EU countries and 14.3 per cent to non-EU countries between 2019 and 2022, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Over the same period, UK services exports – including professional services and labour – rose by 14.8 per cent to EU countries and 22.1 per cent to non-EU countries.
Pointing to these figures, economist Catherine McBride, author of the IEA report, said: ‘If Brexit were a major disrupter of UK trade, we could expect to see a divergence between UK trade with EU destinations and UK trade with non-EU destinations. This is not the case.’
This is largely thanks to the UK and EU’s tariff-free and quota-free trade deal. And while both EU and non-EU countries saw a large drop in trade in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid lockdowns and supply chain shortages, the UK has been able to recover from this.
Excluding precious metals from the trade figures, goods exports to the EU have outperformed exports to non-EU destinations substantially since Brexit, the IEA found.
This makes any claims that Brexit has harmed UK trade with the EU look ‘absurd’, Ms McBride argued.
She added: ‘While the data is still emerging and longer-term effects are as-yet unknowable, there has been no real disparity between UK trade with EU and non-EU countries.
‘Nor has there been a sharp fall in UK–EU trade either at the aggregate or sector level.’
The report argues that although Brexit could have some impact on the UK’s future level of trade with the EU, it has also presented opportunities with other nations.
In a speech at the launch of International Trade Week today, Mrs Badenoch is expected to say: ‘I just don’t agree with the narrative that Brexit has severely damaged our economy. Every major country has faced significant economic challenges over the last few years. We should stop talking ourselves down, and instead talk ourselves up.’
Contrary to some reports and many pre-Brexit establishment voices, the data says Brexit has not had a major impact on UK– EU trade. UK trade with EU countries has broadly moved in line with UK trade with non-EU countries.
The UK remains the second largest exporter of services in the G7 after the US, with its trade patterns compared with other G7 countries remaining unchanged since Brexit.
‘Start talking ourselves up’
BORIS Johnson last night spoke of his horror at the ‘evil’ of the Hamas attacks on Israel as he paid an emotional visit to the scene of one of the terrorist group’s bloodiest massacres.
Wearing body armour, the grim-faced former prime minister toured the horrifying aftermath of the Hamas assault on the Kfar Aza kibbutz, where Hamas terrorists slaughtered men, women and children indiscriminately on October 7.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Johnson took an apparent swipe at the BBC and others who have refused to call the Hamas atrocities a terrorist act.
‘No one looking at the charnel house of that kibbutz could be in any doubt that this was terror,’ he said.
‘This was witting evil – a systematic programme of torture and sadism that is in a different moral
‘No doubt that this was terror’
category from the actions of Israel’s troops.’
Mr Johnson also hit out at pro-Palestine demonstrators in the UK, warning ‘intentionally or otherwise those demonstrators are giving hope and comfort and support to the terrorists of Hamas’.
The visit was conducted under tight secrecy to protect the safety of Mr Johnson and former Australian PM Scott Morrison, who accompanied him.
After travelling to Jerusalem, they went south to the Kfar Aza kibbutz – just yards from the fence separating Israel from the threemile buffer zone with Gaza.
They wore sombre expressions as they were shown the remains of bullet-ridden vehicles and toured a site where dozens of Israelis were slaughtered in their homes.
In a statement later, Mr Johnson urged people to remember the fate of Hamas’s victims as they debate Israel’s response in Gaza.
‘The Israelis are trying their best – even if they are not always succeeding – to keep civilians out of harm’s way,’ he said.
‘Hamas was and is trying to cause maximum harm to the innocent. I wish all those who are demonstrating against Israel could see what I have seen today.
‘Intentionally or otherwise those demonstrators are giving hope and comfort and support to the terrorists of Hamas.
‘What I saw today showed above all why we need and will always need the state of Israel – a place where Jews can be safe.’ Reports suggest more than 100 residents were killed in the attack, including as many as 40 babies and children. Even babies were beheaded.
Some 20 or more residents are missing, with many feared to have been taken into Gaza by Hamas. Around 70 gunmen are thought to have broken through the kibbutz’s fence and used rocket-propelled grenades to destroy security posts and break into homes.
When the Israeli Defence Force regained control of the kibbutz they discovered a massacre of unspeakable depravity.
Several victims are reported to have been beheaded. One child had a knife driven into his skull.
Around 80 per cent of the victims are said to have showed signs of being tortured.
Mr Johnson told GB News: ‘This was an orgy of brutality and torture against innocent people.’
ReMeMBeR when the doom merchants warned Brexit would devastate UK trade with the eU, leaving us much poorer?
How wrong they were. since we quit the bloc, exports of goods and services have risen sharply – despite the extra red tape.
That success comes as Britain exploits newfound freedoms to sign trade deals with the world’s fastest-growing economies.
Contrary to Remainers’ scaremongering, this is a huge vote of confidence in this country’s firms – and our economic future.