Yorkshire businesses 'hurting' as UK exports to EU fall by £20bn, Barry Sheerman warns

Yorkshire businesses are “hurting” as a result of the UK losing £20bn in exports since Brexit, Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman has warned.

The veteran Labour politician said the situation was doing “great damage” to businesses in his constituency.

Office for National Statistics data published in February showed UK exports of goods to the EU have fallen by £20bn compared with the last period of stable trade with Europe. The ONS said the combined impact of the pandemic and Britain’s exit from the single market resulted a 12 per cent fall in exports between January and December last year compared with 2018.

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Mr Sheerman told Parliament: “I trained at the London School of Economics as an economist and so I like looking at the data.

Barry Sheerman has warned Brexit is hurting British businesses involved in exports.Barry Sheerman has warned Brexit is hurting British businesses involved in exports.
Barry Sheerman has warned Brexit is hurting British businesses involved in exports.

“The fact is we have lost £20bn in terms since we left the European Union. Both the Office for Budget Responsibility and everyone else says what great damage is being done to small and medium-sized enterprises and manufacturing businesses. In Huddersfield, the heart of SME manufacturing, they are hurting.”

Mr Sheerman asked what help the Government intends to offer affected businesses.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said falls in exports had been down to Covid and the situation has improved in the last quarter.

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“While through Covid there was indeed a drop in exports, we’re seeing an increase now of 10 per cent in the last quarter, which is very welcome,” she said.

She said the Government’s export support service is available to help businesses which have issues with foreign trade.

The exchange came as ministers were told that exporting a chicken leg from the UK now requires a pile of paperwork which weighs the same as the piece of meat.

International Trade committee chairman Angus Brendan MacNeil said: “With what she calls the UK’s independent trade strategy, the UK of course now cannot even export a chicken leg to any country in the world without the commensurate weight of paper and bureaucracy going with that chicken leg.

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“When she sees the lorry queues in Kent in what used to be an easy market for the UK I wonder if her department has catalogued the hurdles that exporters now have to cope with to trade with the European Union?”

Mr MacNeil claimed that UK exports were “pretty woeful” as they had fallen by 14 per cent compared with rise of 8.2 per cent rest of the world, as reported by the Financial Times.

Ms Trevelyan replied: “The export support service which we launched at the end of last year is there to support those SMEs for whom there have been both technical issues trading with the EU, and many of those have indeed now been resolved and we are helping businesses to do that, but also has helped those SMEs in all our constituencies who are considering exporting for the first time to look at how they can discover markets both within the EU and wider European nations but also the rest of the world.”

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