UK on new, independent path, Sunak says on Brexit anniversary

Prime minister also used anniversary statement to note the benefits to the UK of leaving the bloc

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on January 30. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has used a speech to mark the third anniversary of Brexit to say Britain has made “huge strides” in taking up the opportunities provided by leaving the EU.

The UK left the European bloc on January 31, 2020, and Mr Sunak said the country was confidently forging a new path as an “independent nation” since departing.

He said the benefits of the break with Brussels included opening eight new freeports, plans to review or abolish EU red tape and the overhaul of the regimen for business subsidies.

But Mr Sunak's upbeat analysis contrasted with recent polling that indicated growing unhappiness with the way Brexit has turned out.

“In the three years since leaving the EU, we’ve made huge strides in harnessing the freedoms unlocked by Brexit to tackle generational challenges," he said.

“Whether leading Europe’s fastest vaccine roll-out, striking trade deals with over 70 countries or taking back control of our borders, we’ve forged a path as an independent nation with confidence.

Brexit timeline - in pictures

“And in my first 100 days as prime minister, that momentum hasn’t slowed.

"We’re cutting red tape for businesses, levelling up through our freeports, and designing our own, fairer farming system to protect the British countryside.

“This is just the beginning of our plans to deliver on our five priorities, including growing the economy so we can create better paid jobs.

"And I’m determined to ensure the benefits of Brexit continue to empower communities and businesses right across the country.”

US President Biden warns UK not to damage Northern Ireland peace over Brexit - video

A poll published by Ipsos on Monday found 45 per cent thought Brexit was going worse than they expected, up sharply from 28 per cent in June 2021, including just over one in four (26 per cent) of those who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum.

Fewer than one in 10 (9 per cent) – down six points on 2021 – said Brexit was working out better than expected.

Nearly two in five (39 per cent) said it was meeting their expectations, a seven-point drop.

Ipsos interviewed 1,000 adults from Britain, aged 18 to 75, online on January 25 and 26.

Updated: January 30, 2023, 10:30 PM