New red tape caused by the UK leaving the EU is “the price you pay” for sovereignty, a Tory minister said on Wednesday.
Marking the fourth anniversary of Britain leaving the bloc, Andrea Leadsom said she was “still absolutely convinced” the UK had made the right decision to leave.
Her comments come amid warnings from businesses that the government’s new trade border system, introduced on Wednesday after years of delays, could lead to higher prices and problems for importers.
From Wednesday, EU businesses sending agricultural produce to the UK will have to comply with tough new paperwork requirements – with some warning that they will forego cross-Channel exports as a result.
Additional bureaucracy will be added from April with new physical checks on shipments and from October with additional layers of paperwork.
But despite the growing red tape, Leadsom told Times Radio: “It was very clear in the Brexit discussions … that we will be leaving the single market. That means there are some frictions in trade.”
“There is a huge new opportunity for the UK at the same time as it continues to trade, albeit with some friction, which is the price you pay for leaving the single market and being a sovereign state again.”
“For me as a Brexiteer, I am still absolutely convinced that this is the right thing to do.
The health minister, who campaigned for the Leave referendum in 2016, has spoken of the prospect of trade deals with other countries as an alternative to EU membership.
But the UK and Canada pulled the plug on ongoing talks last week due to a lack of progress and disagreements over beef and cheese.
And estimates by the UK Trade Office for the Observatory – based on government data – suggest the economic hit from leaving the EU single market is up to 178 times greater than the likely gains from signing free trade deals after Brexit.
Opposition leaders blasted Leadsom’s comments.
“It just shows how out of touch he is with this Tory government,” Liberal Democrat spokeswoman Sarah Olney said.
“Britain businesses are feeling the hit of even more red tape coming into effect today, right in the middle of the cost of living crisis. Conservative ministers have broken yet another promise and British businesses, left to grab the cash, will not forgive them.” card.”
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