Yes, it is time to cheer Brexit once more because it added almost £6bn to UK food bills in the two years to the end of 2021, according to research from the London School of Economics (LSE).
Extra red tape made the cost of food imported from the EU increase, adding £210 to the average household food bills in those years.
It even affected poorest households the most, because low-income families spend a greater share of their income on food, so it really does get better and better.
“In leaving the EU, the UK swapped a deep trade relationship with few impediments to trade for one where a wide range of checks, forms and steps are required before goods can cross the border. Firms faced higher costs and passed most of these on to consumers,” said Richard Davies, a professor at Bristol University and co-author of the report.
One benefit of Brexit was that domestic food producers now faced less competition from European imports, the report noted.
But it added: “The gains to domestic firms are outstripped by the loss to domestic consumers by more than £1bn. Additionally, unlike regular tariffs, NTBs do not generate any revenue for the government.”
Nikhil Datta, assistant professor of economics at Warwick University and a co-author of the study, said: “The policy implications are stark: non-tariff barriers are an important impediment to trade that should be a first-order concern, at least on a par with tariffs, for policymakers interested in low consumer prices.”
Meanwhile, it comes as data from the British Retail Consortium trade body showed UK food price inflation hit a record high of 12.4 per cent in November. Researchers said Brexit contributed to this inflation because of the trade barriers between the UK and the EU.
People reacted to the news with the usual sarcasm and resignation to fate that characterises Britishness more than Brexit ever could:
\u201cBrexit added nearly \u00a36bn to UK food bills in two years and disproportionally hit the poor - what a surprise (not) https://t.co/KxI9HFnp3t\u201d
— Martin McKee \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Martin McKee \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6)
\u201cBrexit added nearly \u00a36bn to UK food bills in two years, research finds | Brexit | The Guardian https://t.co/karB7DfFuv\u201d
“We recognise that people are struggling with rising prices due to global inflationary pressures here in the UK, EU and across the world, and we are protecting millions of the most vulnerable families with at least £1,200 of direct payments, including £400 per household towards energy costs.
“Our trade agreement with the EU is the world’s largest zero-tariff, zero-quota deal, and by also removing tariffs on £30bn of goods, we are cutting costs and reducing red tape.”
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