UK exports to EU down by £10.7bn – more Brexit turmoil expected

The UK’s official trade figures for Q4 2023 reveal the UK’s goods exports to the EU slumped from £196.7bn in 2022 to £186bn last year. The revised figures reveal that the UK’s exports of goods to the EU slumped as companies trying to trade with the EU find being outside of the trading bloc problematic and are about to get worse as the temporary trading arrangements designed to hide the catastrophe of Brexit begin to expire.

New Border Target Operating Model (BTOM), phased in from January this year, introduces compulsory health certificates for many food and plant products from the EU that have not previously required paperwork.

These latest figures reveal Britain’s goods exports to the EU have gone backwards since 2022. Claims that quitting the EU would free up the UK to achieve new export success in other international markets have proved to be incorrect. The revised figures reveal the UK’s total exports to the world (including EU exports) fell from £424.4bn in 2022 to £394.7bn in 2023, a collapse of £29.7bn.

Only Britain’s exports to the US kept these revised figures from being even more disappointing and trade deal predicted as just around the corner looks further away than ever.

Brexit secretary David Davis’ predicted that “There will be no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside” and the the Government’s document “The Benefits of Business” declared: “The Government will cut £1 billion of business costs from retained EU red tape.”

Former PM Boris Johnson wrote that the UK would: “seize the incredible opportunities that our freedom presents and use them to build back better than ever before – making our businesses more competitive and our people more prosperous, untangling ourselves from 40 years of EU membership, keeping what works, changing what doesn’t, supporting new industries, reinvigorating older ones and firmly planting the British flag on the world stage once again.”

The continuing disaster that is Brexit will be an issue an incoming Labour Government will have to tackle. And they will have to appoint a trade minister who knows what he or she is doing. No doubt any attempts to sort out the mess left by Frost, Johnson etc will be met with open hostility by the right wing media – that goes with the territory, but out of power apart from the hard line Brextremist’s many Tories will keep the disaster of Brexit at arms length.

The approach by the EU on the question of young people being able to travel and work in Europe whilst welcome was badly handled by the EU. They should have left it until after the election and made the offer. Labour knew the reaction they would get so put it into the long grass.

It’s going to be a long and rocky road back to a decent working relationship with the EU.

There is also the question: Will the EU ever want us back? Rejoining the single market and customs union won’t be a walk in the park. Even applying to join EFTA may be problematic. Whoever is the new trade minster will have to also sort out the crap deals with Australia and NZ, the CTPPT deal which will be taken over by China and the Mickey Mouse deals with individual US states. And doing a deal with the USA will still be along way off. Serious candidates only please….


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