Andrea Leadsom Insists Brexit Will Be 'The Best Decision We Ever Made'

Brexiteer keeps the faith on BBC Newsnight special that hears from one business that spells out how much leaving the EU has cost it.
Tory MP and former minister Andrea Leadsom.
Tory MP and former minister Andrea Leadsom.
Stefan Rousseau via PA Media

Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom has insisted leaving the EU will be “the best decision we ever made” despite the unease among some with the way Brexit has turned out.

The former cabinet minister was appearing on a special episode of BBC’s Newsnight to mark the third anniversary on Tuesday of the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc.

The Tory MP was brought on as one of the most vocal advocates of Brexit during the referendum campaign, and her view appears not to have shifted.

Her upbeat tone comes despite recent polling suggesting growing unhappiness with the direction Brexit has taken.

Leadsom said: “I was so certain and remain so certain that the UK’s future lies outside of the EU, so it was the greatest pleasure and privilege to be able to make that case to the British public with no holds barred. Why should we leave? Here is why.

“For me, I was absolutely passionate about it and I still remain the same today. So I think it is going to be the best decision we ever made. It does always take time, particularly with the horrendous ... the pandemic and Putin’s aggression, and the cost of living crisis, and the energy crisis.”

But others on the programme took a different view, including a businessman who featured in a live debate.

Adrian Hanrahan, managing director of chemicals firm Robinson Brothers, took issue with comments from Lord Marland, another former Tory minister, who suggested Brexit has helped the UK become more competitive.

Brexit has “made us anything but competitive because of the extra cost that we face just on compliance alone”, he said.

Hanrahan added leaving the EU is costing his firm £155,000 per year.

He said: “It irritates me because, and I listen to the chancellor the other day saying we need to be innovative and creative, and £155,000 for me would make me very innovative, because that is stopping me being innovative in the company.

“I am wasting it on duplication and wasting it on compliance and this compliance does not help you, does not help me, does not help our employees, does not help the environment. It’s a total waste.”

A poll published by Ipsos on Monday found 45% thought Brexit was going worse than they expected, up sharply from 28% in June 2021, including just over one in four (26%) of those who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum.

Fewer than one in 10 (9%) – down six points on 2021 – said it was working out better than expected, while nearly two in five (39%) said it was meeting their expectations, a seven-point drop.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak has said Britain has taken “huge strides” in taking advantage of the opportunities opened up by Brexit to address the challenges facing the country.

In a statement, the prime minister said the country is confidently forging a new path as an “independent nation”.

He pointed to the opening of eight new freeports, plans to review or abolish EU red tape and the overhaul of the regime for business subsidies among the benefits of the break with Brussels.


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