Skip to main content

Cost of Living: Leaving the EU

Volume 715: debated on Thursday 9 June 2022

11. What recent assessment his Department has made of the impact on the cost of living of the UK having left the EU. (900334)

Her Majesty’s Government understand that many people are worried about the effect of rising prices. That is why we recently announced over £15 billion of additional support, targeted particularly at those in the greatest need. That brings Government support for the cost of living this year to over £37 billion.

We need to look at the wider context here. It is challenging to separate out the effects of Brexit on the UK economy. Indeed, it is worth noting, as Julian Jessop has been pointing out, the very high rate of food inflation in Germany, which I do not believe is an effect of Brexit. We have also seen an illegal war in Russia and supply chain problems following the pandemic. So we will move on with the Brexit freedoms Bill and the Procurement Bill, which will help us to get more opportunities for growth from leaving the European Union.

But Brexit-related trade barriers have driven up the cost of food in the UK by 6%, making life harder for everyone struggling with the cost of living crisis. So severe is the harm that 60% of leave voters accept that Brexit has driven up the cost of living. Does the Minister accept that, and what do the Government intend to do about the rising cost of food across these islands?

I do not know where these figures come from. The hon. Gentleman himself said it, but I am not sure there is any greater source for these figures, though perhaps he will make them available in the Library if there is some better evidence for them.

What we have done by not adding controls on 1 July is ensure we do not add costs to things coming into this country. We believe in free trade. We do not believe in non-tariff barriers. We believe in being as open as possible. That is why my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is negotiating dozens of free trade agreements, many of them already successfully adopted. That is what we will continue to do because a free and open market reduces prices, which we can do as we are no longer under the yoke—the onerous yoke—of the European Union.