DEBATE: Should we be concerned that the Brexit secretary didn’t realise the extent to which we rely on Dover-Calais trade?

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Dominic Raab said that he “hadn’t quite understood” how “reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing” the UK was (Source: Getty)

Should we be concerned that the Brexit secretary didn’t realise the extent to which we rely on Dover-Calais trade?


Richard Angell, director of the think tank Progress, says YES.

The admission by Brexit secretary Dominic Raab that he “hadn’t quite understood” how “reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing” the UK is would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

Raab sold the idea of Brexit Britain based on the trade prospects outside Europe (that turn out to be somewhere between non-existent and not forthcoming) and no change with the EU – because they need us as much as we need them, apparently. But like the rest of the charlatans that gave us this ideological project turned nightmare, the Brexit secretary’s utopia does not survive interactions with reality.

The EU is the UK’s most important trading partner. We need the Single Market and customs unions to have frictionless trade. Small delays at Calais cause extravagant costs for British manufacturing and our retail sector across the country. In normal times, it would be the Brexit secretary’s own job at risk, not those of ordinary people.

But Raab’s new understanding should be the start of a new view – Brexit isn’t working, it is time for a People’s Vote.


Matt Walsh, director at Media Intelligence Partners, says NO.

Unsurprisingly, the pro-Remain, anti-democracy brigade have seized upon the Brexit secretary’s words to try to gain cheap political capital.

The Remainer press have described it as a “startling confession”, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell used it to make the case for a “People’s Vote” (so what was the 2016 EU Referendum?), while Brussels mouthpiece Professor Brian Cox expressed faux outrage on Twitter.

Dominic Raab will undoubtedly regret what he said about Dover-Calais trade, but it was a simple slip of the tongue – something we have all fallen victim to at some point. His comments have been blown out of all proportion, and this is an unwelcome and unnecessary distraction at this important moment in the Brexit negotiations.

Rather than focus on this minor hiccup, our attention should be on what the final Brexit deal looks like, and – crucially – whether the government is delivering on the Referendum result.

A slip of the tongue is forgivable – betraying the Brexit vote is not.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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