No sunlit uplands

The latest statistics indicating that the UK is the only country amongst its close European neighbours to have a negative trade balance on exports since the Brexit vote should hardly come as a surprise as we progress with what is a catastrophic act of national self-harm.

It was what those against Brexit like myself warned about, but were consistently told by those such as Mr Johnson and his Brexiteer cabal that Brexit would in fact boost trade..

The figures from the House of Commons Library show that the UK has seen a 5.5 per cent decrease in its exports since the 2016 referendum when the country voted to leave the European Union. This is estimated to have cut Scotland’s GDP by up to £9 billion by 2030 compared to the considerable advantages of EU membership.

The data shows that Ireland has seen the biggest increase in its export trade balance of almost 50 per cent from 2016 to 2021, while France has recorded a surplus of 6.7 per cent and Germany had a positive trade balance of 9.5 per cent over the same same-year period. When the impact of the Covid-19 is taken into account, and figures compared from 2020, the UK’s accumulated change of -19.3 per cent is the worst when compared to 13 of its close European neighbours.

Data shows that in the first four months after the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, the precursor for the European Union, the total value of the country’s goods exports increased by 16 per cent compared to the first four months of the previous year. In the first four months of 2021, the total value of UK goods exports fell by 11 per cent compared to the first four months of 2020.

It appears that the “sunlit uplands” we were promised that Brexit would deliver are maybe not as sunlit as we were led to believe.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

First published on the Scotsman letters page