Last week, I met port industry representatives to discuss Brexit opportunities, and I intend to meet a wide range of interested parties across different sectors and industries. Ministers and officials from each Department regularly engage with the devolved Administrations on specific policy areas, and I intend to do so in areas of common interest. I am delighted to have had a letter from Angus Robertson asking to have a meeting, which I look forward to doing. We will include in these meetings reviews of retained EU law.
Annual tax loss to evasion and avoidance in the UK stands at £38 billion, which represents more than 14% of the world’s total tax loss and £570 per UK citizen per year. The EU is implementing new tax evasion rules to clamp down on it, but the UK refuses to act similarly. Does the Minister accept that this is yet another Brexit harm? Or does he see the evasion of tax by wealthy individuals and companies as a Brexit opportunity?
Actually, the Government have a very good record in clamping down on the tax gap and ensuring that people pay the tax that is owed. Fraud, within the whole system of government, is something that must be borne down on. Every element of fraud is taking money from other taxpayers. Therefore, the Government have a strong drive to bear down on it, and have introduced over the past 12 years a number of measures to reduce the opportunities for any tax fraud. We do not need the European Union to tell us how to do it; I could go through some countries of that organisation that have a pretty poor tax collecting record.
The Government have touted their so-called Brexit freedoms Bill as a means of cutting up to £1 billion-worth of red tape, yet Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs estimates that new customs rules resulting from Brexit could lead to increased costs for businesses of up to £15 billion each year. Is it not the case that the only cuts to red tape that have been made since Brexit have been the repeated cutting of red tape lengthways to create many more miles of the stuff than ever existed when we were part of the EU?
The hon. Gentleman conjures up images of origami; I am waiting to see what creatures he will create with the papers he cuts up. It is fundamentally important not only that we cut red tape that was imposed by the European Union but that we do not, as a country, impose red tape on ourselves. We now have the freedom not to impose red tape on ourselves, which is something that I, in my new role, am keen to ensure.
Two weeks ago, the courts again threw out the Welsh Labour Government’s legal challenge to the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020. Does my right hon. Friend agree that instead of spending the past five years expending an enormous amount of time, energy and taxpayers’ money on fighting a democratic referendum result, the devolved Administrations would have served their populations far better by working collaboratively with the UK Government on the great national mission of levelling up our one United Kingdom?
I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend. It is noticeable that the hard-left Administration in Wales, backed up by separatists, is not acting in the interests of the people of Wales. It would be much better to accept the democratic result of the Brexit referendum. The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave; we have now left and the opportunities will flow. To waste taxpayers’ money on taking fruitless legal action is, to my mind, the sort of thing that only the hard-left socialist would do.