Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris was left struggling to defend the economic case for Brexit, after being put on the spot by Sky News’ Sophy Ridge.
In an interview on Sunday morning, Heaton-Harris said “no” when asked if leaving the EU had “made us poorer”.
Ridge pointed out that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has predicted both exports and imports will be 15% lower in the long run than if the UK had remained in the EU.
The presenter also noted that the Bank of England has calculated the UK was suffering a loss of business investment worth £29bn.
“Has it made us poorer, you say no?” she asked. “I say no,” the cabinet minister replied.
Asked what his evidence for that was, Heaton-Harris. said his “evidence is we are still a growing economy, we are doing really well”.
'Has Brexit made us poorer?' - @SophyRidgeSky
"No" says Northern Ireland Sec Chris Heaton-Harris - adding this country has a much better future "having left the EU"#Ridgehttps://t.co/ZoMhCmTrtv
📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/mrsoe7pvKT
— Sophy Ridge on Sunday & The Take (@RidgeOnSunday) March 5, 2023
Heaton-Harris, who campaigned for Leave, said he was “great believer that this county has got a much better future, we will grow quicker having left the EU”.
And while he acknowledged there had been an economic “stutter” after Brexit, he said it was “very difficult” to measure as the country was then hit by Covid.
Ridge noted: “We are thee only country in the G7 to have smaller economy than pre-pandemic.”
Last month a Bank of England economist said Brexit caused investment in UK businesses to plateau and delivered a productivity penalty worth £1,000 per household.
Jonathan Haskel, an external member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), a wave of investment was “stopped in its tracks” in 2016 following the referendum result.
He described the hit as the “productivity penalty”, which amounts to about 1.3% of gross domestic product (GDP). “That 1.3% of GDP is about £29 billion, or roughly £1,000 per household,” he said.