Brexit has cost Britain nearly £16 billion since 2016, experts estimate

Press quote (The London Economic)
13 May 2021

The Centre for European Reform estimates that quitting the single market and customs union at the end of December 2020 reduced UK trade by £7.7 billion – roughly 11 per cent – in March. This came on top of a further £8 billion hit to trade between the referendum, in June 2016, and quitting the single market – a period which saw a significant fall in the value of Sterling.

Researchers created a ‘dopplegänger’ for UK trade in goods, using data from a group of similar countries to guess what would have happened in the UK had stayed in the single market this year – and comparing those figures to what actually happened.

Last month, the CER estimated the trade blow in February had been £11.5 billion. 

John Springford, CER’s deputy director, said: “There are two reasons why our estimate worsened between February and March.

“Trade growth in the countries that make up our ‘doppelgänger’ UK outstripped Britain’s, widening the gap with our modelled economy that stayed within the single market and customs union. The ONS has also revised February’s trade data downwards.”

He added: “It is important to remember that monthly trade data is volatile, so it will take several more months to be certain about the effect of Brexit on the level of UK goods trade, but it is becoming clearer that the impact cannot be dismissed as temporary.”