Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab last night admitted he had not realised how important the Dover crossing with Calais is for Britain’s trade.
His remarks sparked fury among his anti-Brexit critics who said it is ‘shocking’ and shows the leading Eurosceptic had underestimated the scale of Britain’s departure.
Speaking at a Tech Nation event last night, Mr Raab warned consumers could see their choice in shops slashed if new trade barriers are put up.
He said this is why Britain has said that it wants to maintain a very close trading relationship with the European Union.
Mr Raab said: ‘We make clear that we want a bespoke arrangement on goods which recognises the peculiar geographic entity that is the United Kingdom.
‘We are, and I hadn’t understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and how we trade in goods we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.’
British shops could be hit with shortages if the UK does not get a Brexit deal which keeps frictionless trade with France, Dominic Raab (pictured in Downing Street on Tuesday) last night admitted
He said this is why the UK wants to have a close trading relationship with the Brussels bloc ‘particularly for just in time manufacturing goods, whether it’s pharmaceutical or perishable goods.
‘I don’t think it’s a risk of major shortages, but probably the average consumer might not be aware of the full extent of the choice we have of goods in the store are dependent on one or two very specific trade routes.
‘So that is why we have frictionless trading on EU goods and why we said we would be able to sign up to some of the rules to make sure we can preserve the frictionless border.
‘When we come to tech it’s a different set of considerations.’
Labour MP Jo Stevens MP, a campaigner with the anti Brexit group Best for Britain, said: ‘We finally have an admission of what we’ve known all along – that the Brexiteers hadn’t really thought through any of the impacts of leaving the EU.
‘These comments are shocking.
‘British jobs, supplies and services rely on key border crossings like the Dover strait and the fact that the Brexit Secretary is only just realising this is a serious cause for concern.
‘There’s only one clear solution. We need a people’s vote on the final deal, with the option of staying in the EU and retaining our vital trade links.’
Will Straw, who was the executive director of the Remain campaign Stronger In, tweeted Mr Raab and sarcastically wrote ‘would it not have been better if you’d done your homework before backing Leave?’
Labour MP David Lammy said: ‘We’re a couple of weeks away from the end of negotiations.
‘The Brexit Secretary only just learned the importance of trade through the Dover-Calais crossing. We are in deep trouble.’
Labour MP Karl Turner said: ‘I hadn’t quite understood importance of Dover-Calais crossing’. Gob smacking admission but more gob smacking that #Brexit Sec is desperately uninformed about the UK.’