Fox’s former ‘crisp-packet’ advisor gets his sums wrong

Fox’s former ‘crisp-packet’ advisor gets his sums wrong

Sir Martin Donnelly, the former Permanent Secretary at the International Trade Department, used his slot on Radio 4’s Today to attack Brexit, claiming that the arithmetic of Brexit just “doesn’t add up”.

But the ex-mandarin forgot to check his own sums before proclaiming 46% of our service exports go to the EU. The actual figure, according to the ONS, was only 36.8% of total service exports in 2016.

The former Eurocrat told Nick Robinson:

“Size does matter, actually it’s about 46% of our service exports go directly to the EU, 48% or 49% of goods, the figures shift a little. If you add on the access to the EEA and the countries that the EU has preferential trade deals while you’re talking about three fifths of our trade and a large amount of our services trade where we just don’t get access elsewhere.”

But, as ONS data shows, service exports to the EU has been steadily decreasing and the latest ONS data for 2016 show that the EU only accounted for 36.8% of total UK service exports.

Adding in EEA countries Switzerland, Norway and Iceland to EU countries, the figure rises to 43% – still 3% shy of the figures quoted by Sir Donnelly.

The ex-mandarin, who once worked for European Commissioner Leon Brittan, said leaving the customs union was like “giving up a three-course meal for the promise of a packet of crisps.”

But Liam Fox hit back today, telling a packed room it was “unsurprising that those who spent a lifetime working within the European Union would see the move away from the EU threatening.”

He said it was not a choice between the EU and trade opportunities elsewhere as Britain was looking for a deal with the EU and to roll over existing agreements made with third countries.

He added: “The UK Brexit process is, as we’ve all discovered, a little more complex than a packet of Walkers.”

Donnelly was seconded to the French Finance Ministry in 1995 and in 1996 led the UK Economic and Monetary Union team in HM Treasury.