Tory minister Brandon Lewis appeared to suggest that most of the UK has lost its “competitive advantage” in business because of Brexit.
Speaking on BBC Question Time, Lewis claimed that Northern Ireland is the “place to invest and grow your business” because it has “unique” access to trading with both the UK and the EU through the single market.
As Lewis explained, that does now put Northern Ireland in a unique position. He said:
“The Protocol means that as part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland’s going to have this unique competitive advantage in the world, in the sense that Northern Ireland has the ability to trade in and as part of the United Kingdom, as well as through the single market with the EU.
"That’s going to mean, if you’re a business that deals with the UK and a business that deals with the EU, the place to invest and grow your business is in Northern Ireland. You’ve got that ability to trade both ways and I think that gives Northern Ireland a competitive advantage and a huge opportunity.”
That “unique position” is one that the entirety of the UK enjoyed until Lewis’s party pulled us away from it.
The UK can still trade as ever amongst itself, but trading with the EU is now more difficult for England, Scotland and Wales (at least for now). It’s gotten off to a rocky start, especially when it comes to fish, a quickly perishable good whose prices have plummeted while it waits to navigate the post-Brexit red tape for exportation to mainland Europe.
Lewis’s comments proved “baffling” to people who wondered why the UK didn’t just retain this same “competitive advantage” by staying in the EU.
Without any apparent irony a Government Minister spells out the competitive advantage of being in the EU single mar… https://t.co/46ZAGpKBeW
— Andrea Catherwood (@Andrea Catherwood)
@bbcquestiontime @BrandonLewis So you’re admitting that the government pulling us out of the EU is worse for the UK… https://t.co/TwTbmLTVyR
— Ali Watt 🏴 🇪🇸🇪🇺💙 (@Ali Watt 🏴 🇪🇸🇪🇺💙)
@bbcquestiontime @BrandonLewis If it's such an advantage for NI to be in the Single Market, perhaps the rest of the… https://t.co/qjmKCkIUZK