Question Time audience members slam Tories over Brexit disaster

Mark Carney says Brexit has ‘slowed pace of economic growth’

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BBC Question Time audience members have railed against the Conservative Party over Britain’s decision to leave the single market and customs union. The single market guaranteed free movement of goods and people between the UK and EU. However, audience members in the Suffolk village of Snape appeared to question whether rejoining the bloc’s single market could help improve Britain’s economic situation.

One said: “Brexit has decreased our trade with the EU by 16 percent and made Paris a bigger financial capital than London.

“When are we going to start talking about rejoining the single market?”

A second audience member, who runs a bookshop business, added: “The consequences of Brexit are still living with us.

“And I can tell you that, I am an exporter and my business is still existing and hanging on in there.

“I am determined to trade with our biggest market, I have no interest in trading with Australia or New Zealand.”

He continued: “Brexit is a disaster, it’s a disaster for our economy because growth is not a new thing, we need to grow, we need to export and we need to export to our biggest and most obvious market.”

Snape is located in Environment Secretary Therese Coffey’s seat of Suffolk Coastal and constituents there voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

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BBC Question Time’s appearance in the East of England comes after an Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) claimed Brexit negatively impacted the UK’s economy.

The OBR report said: “Our trade forecast reflects our assumption that Brexit will result in the UK’s trade intensity being 15 percent lower in the long run than if the UK had remained in the EU.

“The latest evidence suggests that Brexit has had a significant adverse impact on UK trade.”

The UK is also languishing behind G7 competitors, including Italy, France and Germany, when it comes to GDP growth since 2019.

However, there has been pushback over the claim that Paris has replaced London as the continent’s main financial hub.

Financial columnist Matthew Lynn wrote in the Telegraph: “It is true that the Paris stock market has just overtaken London’s as Europe’s largest, at least by total value.

“But this measure is mostly nonsense, since the extra value largely comes down to the success of one exceptional company – Bernard Arnault’s luxury goods empire, LVMH – which has benefited in the short term from an absurdly strong dollar.

“Its singular performance does not speak for the rounded status of Paris as a financial centre.

“Indeed, on virtually every metric that matters, London is still well ahead of any European city.”

Other commentators have also pointed out that the UK’s inflation rate, which hit 11.1 percent in October, is actually lower than other leading EU nations.

According to EuroNews, Germany’s inflation stands at 11.6 percent, Holland’s has reached 16.8 percent and Italy’s soared by 12.8 percent.

Eastern European countries are also feeling the pinch, with inflation hitting 15.7 percent in Poland and 20.7 percent in Hungary.

However, inflation in France and Spain is lower than Brexit Britain’s at 7.1 percent and 7.3 percent respectively.

Responding to criticism from audience members, Treasury Minister Victoria Atkins said: “We haven’t really had time since we left the EU to be able, I think, to give an objective assessment of Brexit on our economy.

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“But I do keep using these international comparators because actually we do need to look at what is happening in Germany, which is in the EU, in the Netherlands, which is in the EU, in France, which is in the EU.”

Spectator journalist Kate Andrews, who previously described delivering Brexit in 2019 as a “Christmas gift”, added: “I have no doubt that Brexit is playing a role in this but if we look at the autumn statement today this is a fraction of what that was addressing.

“Look at inflation across the eurozone, it’s less than a percentage point under the UK.

“European countries are having a very difficult time too.

“The frustration should be with politicians who have not made the most opportunity of Brexit.

“Frustration should be with the UK and the EU for not coming together and appreciating mutual recognition when it comes to trade… There is still huge opportunity here but the idea that what we are doing now is because of Brexit and not Covid, I mean that’s for the birds.”

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