Brexit works and anyone who says it has hit the economy and trade has an ax to grind, the former Brexit negotiator David Frost has said on the sixth anniversary of Britain voting to leave the EU.
Lord Frost stopped painting a picture of “sunny highlands”, but said official figures are used to predict a 4% drop in production caused by Brexit were “zombie” numbers, based on academic studies of former communist countries, and not facts.
“Those studies looked primarily at the effect of opening up to poorly run ex-communist and ex-authoritarian autarkic economies where the opening produced huge improvements of the political regime more generally and where the gains came from these broader improvements, not just from trade, “he said.
His comments come the day after one report from the Resolution Fund Thinktank said Brexit hurt the competitiveness of British exports and made the cost-of-living crisis worse for households. It was rejected by Brexit Minister for Foreign Affairs Jacob Rees-Mogg as a “resurgence of”project fear‘”.
Frost said on Thursday: “The view that Brexit is hitting us from an economic and trade perspective is generated by those who have an ax to grind and can not be supported by any objective analysis of the numbers. Britain has grown at much the same pace like other G7 countries since the referendum, and as the ONS points out, our exports of goods to the EU are at the highest level ever. ”
He said the picture since 2020 was blurred by trade disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the supply chain crisis. It may never be possible to determine the impact of Brexit alone, he told the annual conference in Britain in a change Europe organization.
In a comprehensive keynote speech, when the EU threw its weapons around Ukraine and Moldova with one plans to give them status as a candidate member, Frost asked how long Brussels would continue to “bother and lecture us”. He suggested that if the EU wanted a stronger relationship with Britain, it would need to adjust its behavior in Northern Ireland and more generally.
Frost also questioned why the British government had not threatened to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol Oh that unveiled draft law overriding Brexit schemes last week. “I’m a little curious why Article 16 is not there? I think there are some clues in the government’s legal statements [which] just ruled it out as a way forward … That would, of course, enable you to act much faster than the bill does, ”he said.
But he backed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ controversial bill, saying there had been “no serious discussion” about the solutions Britain put forward in a command paper last summer.
He said: “Brexit works. We have no reason to regret the decision the country has made. The solutions to the remaining problems must not be found in going backwards, but in completing the process and following its logic.”
Frost played a leading role in the Brexit negotiations, first as an adviser to Boris Johnson as foreign minister and then as the prime minister’s Brexit trade negotiator. While he won praise among Brexiters for concluding a trade agreement in December 2020, his continued criticism of Europe has antagonized many in Brussels.
He suggested on Wednesday that it was up to the EU to restore relations: “Does the EU want Brexit to work? Can it rise above the current frictions and work with the UK as a trusted partner, or will it continue to bother and lecture? U.S?”