Treasury – in the House of Commons on 21st March 2023.
What recent assessment his Department has made of the impact of withdrawal from the EU on the economy.
It remains challenging to separate the effects on the UK economy of Brexit and of wider global trends, such as the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, that add pressures on trade, prices and the wider economy. The Government have been working to take advantage of leaving the EU, including through the Edinburgh reforms, new freeports and the opportunity to shape new trading relationships with the rest of the world.
It is not that difficult, is it? Last week, the Office for Budget Responsibility published its report and, at the bottom of page 46, it says quite clearly that the OBR predicts that Brexit means that the UK economy will shrink by 4% and trade will go down by 15%. Is it not time to get over this denial phase and actually admit that Brexit has caused irreparable harm to the UK economy? Or is the OBR wrong?
If I may, I will gently point out to the hon. Gentleman that the OBR has previously stated that it is too early to reach definitive conclusions. The Government are focused on seizing the opportunities provided by Brexit, including the world’s biggest zero-tariff, zero-quota trade deal. Indeed, Scotland itself will benefit from 71 new trade deals secured with non-EU countries and control of our fishing waters. I hope that the hon. Gentleman also welcomes the £8.6 million invested in Scotland’s festival economy at the Budget last week.
Now that the Windsor agreement has been reached, I am sure that the Minister will agree that there is ample opportunity to have a constructive working relationship with the European Union. In light of that, and for the sake of struggling British businesses, may I ask the Minister whether she will finally get behind Labour’s proposals for a bespoke veterinary agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and for a memorandum of understanding on regulatory co-operation for our financial services?
I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for her question and I urge her to get behind our trade and co-operation agreement. As I say, it is the world’s largest zero-tariff, zero-quota deal. I am delighted to say that the Chief Secretary has just confirmed that we have signed the memorandum.