Brexit working by making beer cheaper, claims Rishi Sunak

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a huddle with political journalists on board a government plane (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a huddle with political journalists on board a government plane (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak has cited cheaper beer and sanitary products as a benefit of Brexit following claims that the Conservatives have “failed” to harness the economic benefits of leaving the EU.

The Prime Minister said there were “lots of signs that things are moving in the right direction” with the economy despite record prices for food and energy.

Speaking to reporters on the way to the G7 summit in Japan, he rejected former UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s claim that Brexit had “failed” under the Tories.

“I introduced freeports – a Brexit benefit around the country attracting jobs and investment to lots of different places,” he said.

“We cut VAT on sanitary products, we reformed the alcohol duties that mean this summer you will be able to get cheaper beer in pubs. These are all very tangible benefits of Brexit that I’ve already delivered.”

Mr Sunak said that growth estimates for the economy were being raised, with predictions for household disposable income growth “hugely” better than expected.

“That’s a very important measure of people’s living standards – hugely outperforming what people thought,” he said.

His comments come amid growing pressure from the Tory right to introduce tax cuts, deregulate the economy and scrap laws written in Brussels. Last week, the Government announced that a promised “bonfire” of EU legislation would be downgraded.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) predicted that 7.8 million people will be paying income tax at 40 per cent or above by 2027-28.

Responding to criticism that taxes were too high, Mr Sunak said: “Right now we're grappling with high inflation and elevated borrowing and it is responsible to deal with that first.

“Once we have reduced inflation and brought borrowing under control I would very much like to be able to reduce the tax burden.”

Earlier this week, Mr Farage had claimed that the country “had not actually benefited from Brexit economically”.

But Mr Sunak insisted he is “actually delivering the benefits of Brexit as opposed to just talking about it”.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday defended the Government’s economic record, insisting ministers were taking a “pragmatic” approach by not slashing taxes during a period of high inflation.

In a speech given at the British Chambers of Commerce, Mr Hunt said that businesses would still be able to access the overseas workers they need.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman used a speech on Monday to push for lower migration, arguing that there was no good reason why British firms could not train their own workforce of lorry drivers and fruit pickers.

But Mr Hunt insisted migrants would still need to play a part in the economy after Brexit.

“What I’m trying to do is to make sure that our businesses can find the labour that they need in order to make sure that recruitment isn’t a problem,” he said.

That meant “we will, at the margins, always be pragmatic” about areas where there are labour shortages.