'I Thought Brexit Was Done': Kay Burley Skewers Andrea Leadsom Over New Border Checks

The Brexiteer minister insisted "businesses are used to the cost of doing business".
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A Tory minister was left squirming over the extra costs being suffered by small businesses because of post-Brexit border checks.

From today, new arrangements as a result of the UK leaving the EU will impact the import of plants, animals and food from the continent.

Many companies say the extra checks will massively increase their costs and put their long-term sustainability at risk.

On Sky News this morning, health minister Andrea Leadsom - a prominent Brexiteer during the 2016 referendum - was grilled on the changes by Kay Burley.

She gave the example of a florist who can’t afford to buy flowers from Holland any more.

The presenter told her: “I thought Brexit was done? So what’s happening?”

Leadsom replied: “You mean the plant checks? One of the points about leaving the single market is there is increased checks at the borders because you’re not in the single market. That’s absolutely known about ever since 2016 when the decision to leave the EU was made.

“But the point is that since leaving the EU, the UK has been able to sign up to, I think, 70 trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is the area of the world from where up to 50% of global growth is expected to come in future decades.”

She added: “Whilst we are still trading enormous amounts with the EU, we have opened up other opportunities for UK businesses - imports and exports.”

Burley then pointed out that even the government has admitted the extra border checks will cost British firms £330 million a year.

Leadsom said: “Businesses always face the cost of doing business. Businesses knew at the time of Brexit that in leaving the European single market there would be additional checks at the border - there was no surprise about that.”

Burley then hit back: “It’s about the small businesses that it’s going to impact.

“We’re speaking to a florist later on who will not be able to afford the flowers coming from Holland because she won’t be able to afford the checks that are going to have to be done. What would you say to her and those like her?”

The minister said: “I’ve had many constituency cases over the years of people who’ve changed their trading arrangements with the European Union as a result of different frictions. Businesses need to adapt to meet the changing environment.”

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