Dominic Raab admits he 'hadn't understood importance' of Dover-Calais crossing
Raab played down the risk of major shortages in food or medicines in the event of a no deal Brexit
Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has claimed he was previously unaware of the importance of the Dover-Calais crossing for the trade of goods between the UK and mainland Europe.
Speaking at a technology conference in London on Wednesday night, Raab told an audience he hadn't "quite understood the full extent" of the crossing's influence on Britain, which he described as a “peculiar geographic economic entity”.
"If you look at the UK and look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing," he added. "And that is one of the reasons why we have wanted to make sure we have a specific and very proximate relationship with the EU, to ensure frictionless trade at the border."
The cabinet minister, who was appointed to his position in July, also played down the risk of major shortages in food or medicines in the event of a deal between the UK and EU not being struck.
He said: "I don’t think it is a question so much of the risk of major shortages, but I think probably the average consumer might not be aware of the full extent to which the choice of goods that we have in the stores are dependent on one or two very specific trade routes.”
Government statistics from 2016 showed 1,905,000 vehicles passing across the Dover-Calais crossing, making it the most popular route for good coming in and out of the UK.
Responding to Raab remarks, Labour's shadow Brexit minister, Jenny Chapman said: "How are we meant to trust this government to deliver a good deal for this country when we have a Brexit secretary who doesn't even understand the very basics of Brexit?"
Earlier today, the European Commission forecast the UK's economy was to become the slowest growing of all EU states by 2020, warning that a no deal Brexit could have even worse consequences for the British economy than predicted.
"The uncertainty around the future status of the UK outside the EU is expected to weigh on UK growth," the report, released on Thursday, stated. "There are large downside risks to the forecast, particularly in the case of a no deal scenario. The results of relevant studies generally show that Brexit is a lose-lose situation economically."