Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Lord Lilley: My Lords, does my noble friend recall that when the single market began in the early 1990s, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at the time—it was me—made many bullish speeches about the beneficial impact this would have on our exports to the EU. Sadly, over the ensuing quarter of a century, our goods exports to the EU stagnated, growing by less than 1% per annum. By contrast, our exports under WTO terms to the rest of the world grew by 90%. Would it not be surprising if, given that membership was not a great benefit to our exports, leaving would do us much harm? Indeed, the Library figures show that our exports to Europe have held up better than our exports to the rest of the world since the referendum.

    Lord Offord of Garvel: I thank my noble friend for sharing his great expertise in this area. As we discussed yesterday, Europe’s share of global trade is declining: it has halved from one-third to 16%, and it is heading towards 10%. That is why we are striking trade deals around the world, such as the CPTPP and with India, which we could not do when in the EU. SMEs are enthusiastically taking full advantage of that. I met a company recently that sells high-end tennis wear to US consumers; when it was built during Covid, it could not sell to Australia because it was too expensive and difficult. Now that we have signed a free trade agreement with Australia, the margins have gone up, the time limit has come down and it is trading successfully there.