Lord Frost has defended Brexit against “Bregret” claims as he set out two reasons behind doubts over the UK’s exit. The former Brexit minister highlighted how “so many other bad things have happened” with the Covid pandemic, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the soaring cost of energy bills.
The Tory peer also blamed the government for not doing enough to talk up Brexit.
Asked by the BBC’s political editor Chris Mason about what is driving “Bregret”, Lord Frost told the Newscast podcast: “I think there are a couple of things going on.
“One is just the fact that there are so many other bad things that have happened.
“The pandemic, the Ukraine war, the energy crisis, all that sort of thing has just depressed people’s moods generally, people are under a lot of financial pressure for all those reasons.
“The other is I think if I had a mild criticism of the government it would be that they are not out as a government perhaps advocating and defending Brexit and rebutting some of the arguments that get put.
“The defense of Brexit and the restatement of the economic arguments, which is nowhere near as difficult as many people say, that’s done by a few bloggers and people on Twitter. The government sometimes feels a bit neutral on the subject.”
Pressed on why, Lord Frost said: “I think just the attention is elsewhere. I do appreciate it’s kind of odd to come out and keep saying Brexit is a good thing all the time if you’re the government, but it is the central policy.
“I think it would be right for the government to be pointing out that actually Britain was the fastest growing of major European economies last year and the year before, contrary to the general mood of gloom.
“And to point out some of the reforms and changes that we’ve done.
“To be fair the Prime Minister did that on Brexit day and rightly so, but one has to keep doing it.”
Asked if it was “inevitable Brexit would be process rather than event” and if there would always be “kinks and bumps in the road”, Lord Frost said: “Yes you’re right.
“The EU is our biggest neighbor and we have to make that relationship work.
“When we were in the EU we spent a lot of time managing the relationship. It’s a bit less time now I think but it’s a different kind of relationship. But it will always be important.
“Obviously it’s a pity that the Northern Ireland Protocol issue is not rather more settled than it is.
“And I think there will always be discussions just like there is in any other trade agreement between the two parties about how it works.”
Lord Frost’s comments come after Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch this week insisted Brexit benefits will take time.
She told Sky News: “It is the long-term trend that I need to work towards rather than what happened this year or last year.
“I think that that is actually what I would call a ‘fake conversation’. It’s like asking people who just got married: ‘Where’s the baby, where’s the baby?’
“Some things will take time, and some things will happen quickly. We lost a lot of time during the pandemic. We lost a lot of time squabbling.
“Now we have a new government that is actually focusing on delivering for the British people.”
Polling by Ipsos of 1,000 British adults, carried out from January 25 to 26, found 45 percent thought Brexit was going worse than they expected three years on from the UK’s official exit from the EU.
Of those, just over one in four – 26 percent – of those who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum.
Just nine percent said Brexit was working out better than expected, while 39 percent said it was meeting their expectations.