Grab Brexit by the horns! Hannan warns Boris yet to take full advantage of leaving EU

Gillian Keegan shuts down Susanna Reid's Brexit swipe

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Brexit does not guarantee national wealth, rather it offers an opportunity to make more profitable choices, argues Lord Hannan of Kingsclere. However, since leaving the European Union, the UK has failed to use this new freedom to its fullest advantage, the Tory peer said. Lord Hannan acknowledges that 2021, the year in which the UK officially left the bloc, was an atypical period of time.

Intermittent lockdowns and a nation reeling from the turbulence of a pandemic made implementing a new status quo more challenging, he said.

But Brexit did play an important role in Britain’s vaccine success.

The UK rolled out the fastest vaccination programme in Europe after avoiding the EU’s chaotic collective purchasing scheme which left European citizens weeks behind.

Last week, Boris Johnson reflected on some of the successes: “From Singapore to Switzerland, we’ve negotiated ambitious free trade deals to boost jobs and investment here at home.

“But that’s not all. From simplifying the EU’s mind-bogglingly complex beer and wine duties to proudly restoring the crown stamp on to the side of pint glasses, we’re cutting back on EU red tape and bureaucracy and restoring common sense to our rulebook.”

Lord Hannan, who was a Conservative MEP from 1999 to 2020, agrees there have been successes – but says they have been stifled.

Writing for grassroots Conservative website Conservative Home, he said: “A combination of bureaucratic inertia, rent-seeking and general protectionism has limited our ambition – even with as close an ally as Australia.

“The resistance to free movement of labour, for example, was wholly on the British side, as was the foot-dragging on cheaper food.

“Free-trade is counter-intuitive, running up against our hunter-gatherer instinct for self-sufficiency.

“Even so, ministers have so far not been radical enough. We need to think like New Zealanders, eliminating barriers regardless of lobbying by vested interests.

“We need to understand that unrestricted imports make our industries more efficient.

“We need to remember that ‘cheap’ is not a dirty word: giving our consumers more spending power is what drives our economy.”

Day-to-day politics is becoming a boundary to success, he added.

The UK opted to overrule the Trade Remedies Authority and retained steel tariffs after leaving the bloc.

This decision was made “largely so that a handful of Conservative MPs could boast about standing up for local producers”, Lord Hannan claimed.

Meanwhile, the “most burdensome” EU regulations have so far been left in place: the Clinical Trials Directive, the Ports Services Regulation, the Temporary Workers’ Directive, the End of Life Vehicles Directive, the droit de suite rules, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, MiFID II, the bonus cap.

The UK must make a “conscious effort” to strip itself of the regulations which have been in place for decades, Lord Hannan said.

He concluded: “The PM could now make some of the reforms arrested by the pandemic – if he doesn’t, we must conclude that he never will.”

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