Brexit backlash: Remainer historian silenced as UK leaving EU branded ‘disaster’

Brexit grace period extension discussed by Leo Varadkar

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Dan Snow retweeted an article from January which said British businesses will spend £7.5billion a year handling customs declarations — as much as they would have done under a no deal Brexit. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) chief executive Jim Harra had told MPs the number of customs forms needed to trade with the European Union under the agreed Brexit deal with the UK was “not materially different from a no deal situation”. He cited revenue estimates from October 2019, which found the cost of n deal to UK and EU business would be £15billion a year, and that still held true under the deal, with each side paying half the bill.

The impact assessment from HMRC also warned British businesses would need to handle an additional 215 million import and export declarations a year.

Mr Harra had told the public accounts committee: “That was based on quite a lot of information and research from government and the private economy on the cost of making customs declarations.

“I would expect that impact assessment to continue to be good information.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice attempted to play down fears of any sort of serious disruption, and told Times Radio: “There is a familiarisation cost there, but once people get used to it, I think it will work fine.

“The bigger businesses are already coping with this paperwork. It’s additional paperwork but they are managing it.”

Remainer historian Dan Snow reignited the argument this weekend, retweeting the article with the comment: “Enough with your Suez this and that.

“This is the worst foreign policy disaster since the loss of the American colonies.”

But the comments from Mr Snow sparked a furious reaction from several people.

One person hit back in reply: “It was the will of the people, in the largest demonstration of democracy in decades.

“It is not a foreign policy disaster.”

A second person wrote: “£7.5bn is about the cost of a week and a half of lockdown and a tiny fraction of one percent of the UK’s £2trillion GDP, to put this into perspective.

“So even if you accept these figures, it’s a tiny pin prick compared to the democratic disaster of ignoring a referendum result.”

Another Twitter user commented: “The worst bit is the hysterical melodrama.

“Leaving an economic union after 45yrs, with the EU determined to punish us, was always going to be tough, but compared to the grave predictions it’s actually going pretty well so far, and most of these problems will be forgotten in five years.”

A fourth person added: “Yeah but we are free and you can’t put a price on that.

“Well you can it’s £7.5billion, but freedom is priceless, except when it’s not.”

In the days and weeks following the trade deal at the end of last year, around 100 lorries a day were being turned away at the border because they did not have the right paperwork, according to Cabinet Office figures at the time.

Emma Churchill, director-general of the border delivery group at the Cabinet Office, had also admitted hundreds of fines had been handed out to hauliers who did not have the right permits at Dover and Folkestone.

The latest row comes with the UK and EU set to resume Brexit talks this week, with trade and in particular the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol top of the agenda.

Over the weekend, Brexit minister Lord Frost insisted the UK will not sweep away the Northern Ireland Protocol and warned tensions over the deal risks creating “cold mistrust” with the EU.

Speaking at the British-Irish Association conference in Oxford on Saturday, he said: “The stakes are high. The arguments can be bitter.

“And I worry this process is capable of generating a sort of cold mistrust between us and the EU which could spread across the relationship.

“It’s holding back the potential for a new era of cooperation between like-minded states in a world which needs us to work together effectively.”

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