Ann Widdecombe spoke to Express.co.uk about Brexit and how the decision has played out across the UK in her mind. The former Conservative minister explained the freedoms granted to the UK now allows the country to trade globally and pursue what they want on the world stage, arguing history books will demand to know why the decision was not made sooner. Ms Widdecombe also dissected the HGV driver debacle and admitted Brexit was partly to blame but a “perfect storm” of other reasons was the most likely conclusion of the problem.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Widdecombe was asked how Brexit would be perceived in the history books.
She said: “They’ll ask why didn’t we do it earlier.
“I mean we’ve already seen a huge positive impact on the economy, on business growth and we’re free.
“We’re not as free as I would like to be and I think for Northern Ireland situation was a disgrace.
“But we are free and we can trade globally and I think we will do very well indeed.
“Typically the remainders tried to blame the delivery drivers crisis on Brexit but the numbers just don’t stack up.
“And so, we’re gonna hear a lot of remoaning for a long time to come, but eventually people will realise, they will grow up and realise we are where we are now let’s make the best of it.”
Ms Widdecombe also took issue with the HGV driver shortages being exclusively blamed on Brexit and instead argued a “perfect storm” of stagnant wages, the pandemic and reassessment of job goals are also to blame.
A Road Haulage Association survey found there was a shortage of 100,000 drivers in the UK which is causing delivery delays and cancellations across the UK.
BBC’s Ros Atkins pointed to statistics that showed 15,000 of the 40,000 EU drivers have left the profession since the pandemic.
Those who left, he argued, could not all be attributed to Brexit as many would be able to stay in the UK but have left for other reasons – like the pandemic.
However, 50,000 UK drivers have left HGV driving as he argued changes in the labour market are also culpable as the public reassess what they want out of their jobs.
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Ms Widdecombe agreed, adding supply chain issues were being experienced across the world.
Issues over the Northern Ireland Protocol continued to plague the Brexit agreement as the DUP threatened to walk out of a power-sharing agreement in Stormont because of it.
Brexit Minister David Frost has been looking at ways to renegotiate the Protocol over fears there will be a hold-up of goods at Northern Irish ports.
European Commission vice-president, Maroš Šefčovič, rejected these plans, adding the EU was not seeking a political victory over the UK but wanted them to implement the agreement fully.