Brexit Opportunities Unit

Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons on 24th February 2022.

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Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Conservative, Ynys Môn

What recent progress the Brexit Opportunities Unit has made in delivering growth and innovation.

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)

Thank you, Mr Speaker; it is a rare treat.

Her Majesty’s Government are delivering an ambitious programme to seize the opportunities of Brexit and deliver growth and innovation across the United Kingdom. The Brexit Opportunities Unit co-ordinates those reforms in close partnership with other Departments, including by working towards our target to cut at least £1 billion of EU red tape to help businesses to innovate and grow.

Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Conservative, Ynys Môn

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the Welsh Government and Isle of Anglesey County Council are all setting up new facilities in Holyhead to enforce post-Brexit port regulations, bringing much-needed new local employment to my constituency of Ynys Môn. How will the Brexit Opportunities Unit work with those organisations to gather feedback on their operations that can then be used to inform the review and to inform regulation and policy?

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)

My hon. Friend has become the greatest champion that Ynys Môn has ever had; every time she asks a question in this Chamber, she is always promoting her fantastic and beautiful constituency. Her constituents are very lucky to have her as their Member of Parliament. Once again, as so often, she is absolutely right: we will be driven by data and evidence from the frontline, not simply copying what has been done in the past. We therefore all look forward to seeing what happens at Holyhead.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

May I associate myself with the remarks of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster about Ukraine? My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and I fully support them in their sovereignty.

I welcome the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency to his place. One result of Brexit is that we have an independent sanctions regime, so why have the Government not taken the opportunity before now to go further in their sanctions against Russia?

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)

If the hon. Lady has had a chance to look at the annunciator, she will have seen that the Prime Minister will be making a statement at 5 o’clock. It is best that my right hon. Friend make the statement, rather than my trying to pre-empt him.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Following this morning’s inexcusable attack on independent Ukraine, may I put on record the SNP’s unequivocal condemnation of President Putin and his actions, and repeat our support for and our solidarity with the people of Ukraine?

I, too, welcome the Secretary of State for fantasy island—sorry, the Minister for Brexit Opportunities—to his place. That was an easy mistake to make, particularly as he believes that Brexit is already a success and that there is no evidence that it has caused trade to drop, despite the Office for National Statistics reporting that UK exports to the EU have fallen by £20 billion in 20 months. How can we trust him to deliver growth when he has hitherto been unable to accept the evidence of the ONS and the experience of just about every exporter in the UK who is losing business while drowning in a sea of paperwork and bureaucracy?

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)

I welcome the cross-party support for the actions that the Government are taking in regard to Ukraine, and the cross-party support for the people of Ukraine in these very difficult circumstances.

As regards the hon. Gentleman’s statement about exports, he may have missed the fact that there has been a pandemic. I know that sometimes the SNP does not pay careful attention to public affairs, but the pandemic has had an effect on supply chains across the world and is one of many things that cannot be blamed on Brexit. I am delighted, however, that Scotland is reaping the rewards of Brexit and has decided to have a green freeport, which will be an enormous boost to the economy of Scotland. Perhaps he has noticed that, through the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020, more powers have been devolved to Scotland. Is it not eccentric that our Scottish friends would like to be ruled from Brussels, rather than being part of a United Kingdom that works effectively for everybody?

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Yet another classic example of “If the facts don’t fit the narrative, ignore the facts.”

Such was the faith that the Minister had in himself to find these Brexit opportunities that the first thing he did was issue a “What would you do in my shoes?” appeal to readers of a national newspaper. I am sure that the suggestions for what he could do came thick and fast, but what was the best suggestion that he received? Will he be implementing it?

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)

I have received 1,800 recommendations from the wise readers of The Sun. I believe that the British people have an enormous amount of wisdom from which politicians, particularly politicians in Scotland, could benefit.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

Businesses and business organisations in my constituency are eager to engage with the Brexit Opportunities Unit. Will my right hon. Friend be touring the UK to promote Brexit opportunities, and if so, may I invite him to visit Cleethorpes in the near future?

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency)

My hon. Friends the Members for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers) and for Ynys Môn (Virginia Crosbie) compete with each other to be greatest champion of their constituencies. I look forward to visiting Cleethorpes in the not-too-distant future. There is a date in the diary, and I am looking forward to the finest food that Cleethorpes can provide when I go there to speak.