Brexit LIVE: Top economist dismantles Remainers’ ’empty shelves’ claims- ‘Little evidence’

Brexit Britain 'firing on all cylinders' says expert

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Julian Jessop, a former chief economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs, has debunked claims the UK leaving the European Union has been a significant contributing factor in some supply issues around the country. In recent weeks pictures have emerged online of some supermarket shelves being empty and fears of shortages have been played down by industry experts and the Government.

Mr Jessop has suggested Remainers have exaggerated the problem and blamed Brexit with “little evidence” to support the argument.

Writing in the Telegraph, he said: “Have you noticed empty shelves and food shortages in your local supermarket? Oddly, the answer often seems to depend on how someone voted in the EU referendum.

“Remainers were certainly quick to jump on reports that army drivers had been put on standby to deliver essential items, gleefully trumpeting this as proof that at least one ‘Project Fear’ warning was turning out to be ‘Brexit Reality’.

“In fact, there is little evidence that these problems are widespread. Carefully curated photos of empty shelves posted on Twitter do not count.

“Nor does the existence of contingency plans that have not actually been implemented.”

Mr Jessop acknowledged Brexit may have played some part but has cited a number of other contributing factors, such as issues with the workforce.

He pointed out a shortage of HGV drivers, complex tax rules for agency staff and people leaving the UK due to the pandemic and unable to return due to travel restrictions.

Trade union Unite has estimated there is currently a shortage of around 75,000 lorry drivers in the UK.

The so-called “pingdemic” caused by the NHS app also forced more than 600,000 people into self-isolation during just one week in July.

Mr Jessop pointed out a shortage in the workforce is not an issue confined to the UK but widespread across Europe.

He said: “The growing shortages of drivers in their home countries also means that some EU drivers may not have chosen to come back anyway, even if Brexit had not happened.”

He added: “Any impact from Brexit on the supply of workers, including drivers, has been dwarfed by a shortage of labour across the board as the economy has rebounded.”

The latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics has revealed the number of vacancies in the UK reached 953,000 in the three months to July.

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8.20am update: Brexit Britain to start trade deal talks with India by the end of the year

Brexit Britain is looking to start negotiations for a trade agreement with India by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Britain’s Department for International Trade said: “We are currently in the pre-negotiation scoping phase of an FTA (free trade agreement), with the aim of starting negotiations by the end of this year.

“With bilateral trade valued at £23billion in 2019, a trade deal with India will help boost British exports through lower tariffs and increased investment opportunities.”
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