Jacob Rees-Mogg clashes with Richard Graham over Brexit
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An increase in bureaucracy due to Brexit has had a “terrible” impact on the UK’s wine industry, a “lifelong” Conservative voter has claimed. BBC Question Time ventured down to Winchester last night as Fiona Bruce’s panel discussed whether the UK’s departure from the European Union has brought about any benefits for the country. Winchester bucked the trend compared to a majority of Tory voting areas in England to support membership of the Brussels bloc in 2016, with just 41 percent opting to sever ties with the UK’s nearest trading partner.
Ex-Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg locked horns with one audience member over how the UK’s decision to quit to bloc had impacted Britain’s wine industry.
The audience member said: “I’ve spent the last 30 years as a director in the wine industry so I have experienced first-hand just how terrible things have become post-Brexit.
“I find it incredibly disappointing, as a lifelong Conservative voter, to hear Jacob saying all of this stuff.”
He added: “Just from a bureaucracy point of view and the paperwork, I mean everything.
“I’ve been importing and exporting wine for 30 years for a leading wine company and we just see delays, we see paperwork problems, everything has become so much more complicated.
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“And the whole point about this being ‘oven ready’, it’s about as oven ready as a frozen turkey taken out five minutes before Christmas day, it really is a joke.”
Mr Rees-Mogg, who previously headed up the pro-Brexit European Research Group, replied: “On wine, of course, we have deregulated on the import of wine from Australia and New Zealand.
“So, we are making it easier for other countries to export to the UK, it is a part of the Free Trade Agreement passed through Parliament.”
The audience member snapped back: “I am a member of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, who lobby constantly with the Government, at the moment, the alcohol duty system is terrible.”
The North East Somerset MP replied: “That’s a tax issue.
“The import of wine has been made more simple.”
The former Business Secretary, who was a fervent supporter of ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, cited democracy, corruption in Brussels, holidays to Portugal and Jeremy Hunt’s recent Edinburgh reforms as key examples of the benefits of Brexit.
Labour MP Shabana Mahmood, who previously served as Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury under Ed Miliband, revealed Sir Keir Starmer would not lead the UK back into the single market.
Birmingham Ladywood’s MP said: “Brexit has been an incredibly divisive issue and it is still incredibly divisive now.
“We don’t want to relitigate the debates of the past, we won’t be going back into the single market under a Labour Government, there will be no return to freedom of movement either.
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“But it is still possible to make Brexit work and that’s our challenge to the Government.
“We’ve got to get a better deal than the one we currently have and I agree with the comments on an ‘oven ready’ deal.”
She also claimed that EU member states did not “owe us a living” with regard to the Channel crossing crisis.
Ms Mahmood put forward signing a veterinary agreement with the EU as a way to ease pressure at British ports post-Brexit.
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