Dominic Raab, current Brexit Secretary, has admitted that he ‘hadn’t understood’ the complexity and importance of trade with France. This admission came as he suggest post-Brexit, the choice of goods on UK shelves will be restricted given that 17% of the UK’s trade in goods, about £122 billion annually, travels into the UK via Dover and Calais.
He spoke of the “peculiar, frankly, geographically, economic entity’ that is the UK, which led Labour to question why the Brexit Secretary was in post when he “doesn’t even understand the basics”.
Mr Raab dismissed concerns of a ‘major’ goods shortage, and said that UK shoppers are not currently aware of the choice on offer.
His comments sparked a backlash from within his own party as well, with staunch remainer, and former Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan tweeting #enoughsaid.
Outside the Commons, former UKIP leader Henry Bolton added that the threat to Brexit was not in leaving the EU, but from “a government that doesn’t know what it is doing”.
However, Mr Raab assured people at the tech conference he was attending on Wednesday, when he made these comments, that the Government was calling for a “bespoke” trade deal with the EU.
This has been used repeatedly by the UK Government as a bargaining chip. They argue that as the UK is starting off negotiations from within the trading bloc, with common regulatory standards, a bespoke deal would be mutually beneficial.
This has also been the justification given as to why the Prime Minister will not commit to a deal similar to Norway, or Canada, which she argues is impossible given that they were negotiating from a position outside the EU.
However, the EU themselves have had a hard time understanding the UK’s rationale for calling for a bespoke deal. They argue that it is not in their interests, taking a contrary position to the Prime Minister, arguing that an ‘off the shelf’ model, would be easier as the UK and EU would not be designing one from scratch. Furthermore, given that the Brexit countdown is underway, many businesses also see the attraction of committing to a Norway-style model, as this, they argue, would provide a model from which they could plan.