This is the title of the piece in the ‘Daily Business’ – and it is no exaggeration.
The Commons data shows the UK saw a decline in exports of -5.5% over five years, putting it behind 13 neighbouring countries: Ireland (+48.1%), Finland (+18.8%), Sweden (+15.5%), the Netherlands (+15%), Denmark (+14%), Luxembourg (+13.6%), Austria (+11.1%), Germany (+9.5%), Switzerland (+7.5%), France (+6.7%), Belgium (+6.2%), Norway (+4.8%) and Iceland (+0.8%).
Indeed the Food and Drink Federation has released figures and charts, which suggest some of the basics of the problems (notably with the Republic of Ireland):
So the UK is, it turns out, entirely unlike its European neighbours, even though it has opened up post Covid earlier than most of them. It seems likely that Britain’s exporters, with lockdowns eased, probably tried and failed to find a way through the newly instituted UK Brexit ‘third country’ red tape and when Marks and Sparks say that their European exports proceed with paperwork that is roughly the equivalent of three paperback novels one can well understand why many, particularly small, companies are completely defeated.
So it wasn’t Johnson’s idea that Brexit would boost trade that we should have listened to – but rather the idea that he was happy to f*** business.
Of course added to this the domestic shortage of lorry drivers (which nonetheless seems to be good for some local draymen at least) as well as the understandable reluctance of European drivers to submit themselves to Brexit bureaucratic delays for customers who are either exporters or importers, there really is a perfect storm.
Yet the UK export slump hasn’t, so far, merited a mention on the BBC…