A Frost warning: Brexit is a failure and no one can rescue it - Angus Robertson

Things are that bad with Brexit that even the arch-Brexiteers are deserting.

By Angus Robertson
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 4:55 am
David Frost looks on as Boris Johnson signs the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU last year
David Frost looks on as Boris Johnson signs the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU last year

Lord Frost, the unelected Minister in charge of post-Brexit negotiations with the EU, resigned in frustration at the ‘general direction’ of the UK Government. Lockdown and higher taxes were David Frost’s acknowledged frustrations, although its hard to believe it’s not also to do with the standoff with the EU about the Northern Ireland Protocol he previously agreed to as an ‘oven ready’ deal.

This is of course not the only problem associated with Brexit coming to pass? Cost of living increases; added export and import bureaucracy and delays; businesses struggling to survive as European workforce leaves for more friendly homes on the continent. We all knew this was coming. These exact predictions were given countless times by a range of politicians, policy experts, journalists and beyond.

In fact, even Lord Frost himself warned of this very scenario. In 2016 in his capacity as head of the Scotch Whisky Association, he gave an interview in which he outlined the dangers of Brexit. To quote exactly, Lord Frost said: “About 40 per cent of what we export goes to Europe. If we leave the European Union then we are going to see administrative barriers brought up. If there is a Brexit, we will lose access to the European Union Free Trade Agreements, that is clear.

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“If the UK then will need to renegotiate its own agreements, clearly that is going to take time. Our interest is to be part of the biggest possible market with the fewest possible barriers. The European single market gives us that. The European free trade agreements gives us that. Why would we want to depart from that?”

Lord Frost has known all this time that Brexit was doomed. Having taken a high-profile ministerial job perhaps the former diplomat thought he could at least establish himself as a key political figure. Hoisted by his own petard is a phrase that springs to mind.

It is certainly probable that Lord Frost, along with the rest of the world, has got to the end of his tether with Boris Johnson. Over the weekend, an image of Johnson enjoying a glass of wine with at least a dozen colleagues at a time when the rest of the public was limited to meeting just one other person outside.

Boris Johnson has made his priorities clear. He prefers sitting on the Downing Street terrace rather than attending important COBRA meetings with Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish leaders to battle for the pandemic. Perhaps COBRA organisers just need to put on a good spread for the PM to come along.

Now that Lord Frost has gone, Boris ally Liz Truss has been wheeled in to bail him out, agreeing to take up the poisoned chalice that is the role of Brexit minister. This is in addition to her role as Foreign Secretary and the zeal of a Brexit convert, having campaigned for Remain in the referendum.

The departure of Lord Frost is a stark warning. Brexit is a failure and no one can rescue it. In Scotland, we have to decide whether we want to be tied to this folly.