The architect of Boris Johnson’s EU trade deal is to declare in a keynote speech today that “Brexit is working”.
But in stark contradiction of Mr Johnson’s claim to have “got Brexit done”, David Frost will say that “Brexit is not complete yet”, in part because of the ongoing row with Brussels over the Irish border.
Despite estimates from the Government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility that the long-term impact of withdrawal from the European Union could lower UK GDP by 4%, Lord Frost will insist that suggestions that Brexit has harmed the economy come only from people with “axes to grind”.
And – despite UK threats to break international law by breaching the Northern Ireland Protocol he helped negotiate – the former Brexit negotiator will accuse Brussels of behaving in a “confrontational” way and urge it to co-operate with Britain as “a trusted partner”.
Lord Frost’s comments come in a speech to the UK in a Changing Europe thinktank to mark the sixth anniversary of the 2016 EU referendum today.
Polls in recent years have consistently shown a majority of Britons believe it was a mistake to vote to leave the EU – most recently by a margin of 49 to 37%.
Concerns have been stoked by the intractable dispute over the Irish border, increased red tape for UK exporters, snarl-ups at Channel ports, the return of mobile phone roaming charges and British travellers’ loss of benefits such as visa-free passport queues.
But Lord Frost will insist: "Brexit is working. We have no cause for regrets about the decision the country has taken.
“The solutions to the remaining problems are not to be found in going backwards, but in completing the process and following through on its logic."
His comments come a day after a Resolution Foundation report found that Mr Johnson’s trade deal has made the UK less competitive, with productivity forecast to fall by 1.3% fall by the end of the decade as a result and real pay set to be £470 per worker lower than it would have been in the EU.
But Lord Frost will say: “The view that Brexit is hitting us from an economic and trade perspective is generated by those with an axe to grind and cannot be supported by any objective analysis of the figures.
"The UK has grown at much the same pace as other G7 countries since the referendum and, as the Office for National Statistics points out, our goods exports to the EU are at the highest level ever.”
And he will say that if the EU wants a stronger relationship with the UK, it must adjust its behaviour over Northern Ireland.
“Does the EU want Brexit to work?” he will ask. “Can it rise above the current frictions and work with the UK as a trusted partner, or will it continue to hassle and lecture us?"
© The Independent