Minister in ‘complete denial’ over Brexit harm to Britain’s economy which experts put at £31m

Treasury silent on damage being caused by Brexit to Britain’s economy and Bank of England accused of being reluctant to talk about it.

A Cabinet minister was accused on Monday of being in “complete denial” over Brexit after claiming it was not impacting on Britain’s grim economic growth figures.

Environment Secretary George Eustice, a leading Brexiteer, was asked about the consequences of quitting the European Union after the latest GDP data showed the economy shrunk by 0.3 per cent in April, significantly worse than City forecasts.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t accept that Brexit is a factor in this because we are seeing trade continue and actually the big problems that businesses are facing - labour shortages and wage inflation, that is happening right across Europe and it’s happening in the US as well, globally economies are finding there’s a shortage of labour and it’s mainly that price of gas and oil, energy costs which are eating into margins and affecting people’s investment decisions.”

However, leading economists say Brexit is harming Britain’s economy, as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the supply chain problems following the Covid crisis, with the latest GDP figures also affected by the scaling back of Covid testing.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman Christine Jardine MP criticised Mr Eustice’s Brexit comment, saying: “This Conservative Government is in complete denial. It is time ministers stopped taking the British public for fools.”

The Treasury is refusing or unable to publish details of how Brexit has hit the UK economy, stressing that it is difficult to do so given that there are so many forces on it.

The Bank of England has been accused of being reluctant to talk about Brexit because of alleged worries about upsetting the Government.

An analysis by the Centre for European Reform puts the GDP blow to the UK economy from quitting the EU at £31 billion.

The leading think thank estimated the figure by creating a doppelganger model of Britain’s economy to compare how it would have performed if it had remained in the European trading bloc.

Leading Brexiteers have dismissed its findings but not come up with any figures of their own.

Brexit is being partly blamed for a shortage of workers in Britain’s agriculture, hospitality and other sectors.

Good food is routinely going to waste on farms across the country due to a lack of workers, the head of the National Farmers’ Union has said.

Minette Batters said there was an “absolute crisis”, meaning food was being ploughed back into land on farms.

She told Times Radio: “I know glasshouses where tomatoes remain unpicked, we know there was a big crop of lettuces that was ploughed back in last week.

“Growers are extremely reluctant to put their name to this because it will massively compromise their business with their contractual relationship going forwards.

“So there is a real nervousness about speaking out on food waste on farms but it is happening at scale.”

London and Northern Ireland, which effectively remained within the EU single market, are the two regions which saw the fastest economic growth in the July-September quarter of 2021, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Asked if Boris Johnson thought Brexit had any impact on the GDP figures or inflation, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “At this stage, and this is not solely our view, it’s too early to pass judgement on that, particularly given the two years of a global pandemic following Brexit.

“But we are confident that the opportunities Brexit provides will be a boon to the UK economy in the long term.”

Source: Evening Standard