Downing Street has denied an accusation from arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage that leaving the EU “has failed”.
Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight on Monday, the former UKIP leader admitted that the country had “not actually benefited from Brexit economically” and blamed this on “useless” Tory politicians “mismanaging” the departure from the bloc.
Responding, Number 10 pointed to freedoms being enjoyed in the British farming sector as an example of how the divorce from the EU was allowing the UK to take a more tailored approach to policies.
Politics live: Home secretary’s migration stance ‘right’
The row comes as the UK economy continue to stagnatewith gross domestic product (GDP) shown to have increased by just 0.1% between January and March.
‘We have mismanaged this totally’
Newsnight presenter Victoria Derbyshire said to Mr Farage: “A poll from last month showed that 53% of people say it was wrong to Brexit – around one in five Leave voters regret it.
“The OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] forecast a 4% hit to the economy over the medium-to-long-term – that’s £40bn in tax revenues.
“Economically, the UK would have been better off staying in, wouldn’t it?”
Mr Farage said he “doesn’t think that for a moment” – and blamed the “failure” on the Conservative government’s handling of Brexit.
He said: “We haven’t benefited from Brexit economically when we could have done.
“What Brexit has proven, I’m afraid, is that our politicians are about as useless as the commissioners in Brussels were.
“We have mismanaged this totally.”
He said the decision to increase corporation tax from 19% to 25% in April was “driving business away from our country” and that the UK government was “arguably… regulating our own businesses even more than they were as EU members”.
“Brexit has failed,” he added.
UK government scraps plan to replace all EU laws by the end of 2023
Brexit stopped Ukraine invasion from succeeding, Jacob Rees-Mogg says
Asked whether he would consider a return to frontline politics, Mr Farage said: “I wouldn’t rule it out but it is not at the top of my bucket list.
“But frankly, we have not delivered on borders, we have not delivered on Brexit, the Tories have let us down very badly.”
Mr Farage previously said he would leave the country if Brexit turned out to be a “disaster”.
Downing Street defiant on Brexit benefits
Asked whether Rishi Sunak – who campaigned to leave the EU – agreed with Mr Farage’s sentiments, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “No.”
“I think the prime minister has talked about the benefits of Brexit on a number of occasions,” he added.
“Just thinking about farming alone, we’re talking about some of the benefits of moving away from a bureaucratic cap which skewed money towards the largest landowners, with 50% going to the largest 10%.
“We have a fairer system tailored to British farmers post-Brexit.”
The spokesman was speaking after Downing Street held a UK Farm To Fork summit with representatives from across the food supply chain on Tuesday.