Dominic Raab has been ridiculed after saying he “hadn’t quite understood” the importance of cross-Channel trade to the UK economy.
The extraordinary admission came as the Brexit secretary also warned shoppers to expect less choice of goods if leaving the EU damages the trade route from France.
Speaking at an event for tech firms, Mr Raab said Theresa May was pursuing a future trade deal that recognised the “peculiar geographic economic entity” of the UK, as an island nation.
“I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing,” he said.
“And that is one of the reasons why we have wanted to make sure we have a specific and very proximate relationship with the EU, to ensure frictionless trade at the border.”
The comment drew scorn from the scientist and broadcaster Brian Cox, who tweeted: “How could it possibly come as a surprise to Dominic Raab that our most important trade gateway is that which is closest geographically to our most important market?”
Nicky Morgan, the former Conservative cabinet minister who advocates a soft Brexit, tweeted simply: “Gulp’ #enoughsaid.”