Rishi Sunak hails 'huge strides' in harnessing Brexit freedoms as Britain marks three years since leaving EU

30 January 2023, 23:12 | Updated: 31 January 2023, 07:27

Britain left the EU officially in January 2020
Britain left the EU officially in January 2020. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has hailed 'huge strides in harnessing Brexit freedoms' ahead of the third anniversary of the UK's departure from the EU.

Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, but Brexit was not made official until January 31, 2020.

As he prepares to celebrate his first 100 days as prime minister on Wednesday, Mr Sunak reiterated his belief that Brexit is a "huge opportunity".

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

"Whether leading Europe’s fastest vaccine rollout, 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.

“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.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty

Mr Sunak continued: “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.”

One of Mr Sunak's primary focuses in his championing of Brexit was Britain's use of freeports, of which there are eight in England and two planned for Scotland.

The government says this is expected to bring £10.8 billion of public and private investment and creating over 75,000 high-skilled jobs.

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The government also said Mr Sunak remains committed to review, reform, repeal or replace all retained EU law, and congratulated itself on introducing a new system to regulate the award of subsidies to business.

Mr Sunak first came into office on October 25, a matter of weeks after Liz Truss succeeded Boris Johnson as prime minister in what was a tumultuous time inside Number 10 Downing Street.

Rishi Sunak's first speech outside Number 10 Downing Street
Rishi Sunak's first speech outside Number 10 Downing Street. Picture: Getty

At the time, the new prime minister vowed to "unite" the country after he officially became the UK's third PM in two months at a time of profound economic turmoil.

In his first speech, he said: "It is only right to explain why I am standing here as your new Prime Minister. Right now our country is facing a profound economic crisis.

"The aftermath of Covid still lingers. Putin’s war in Ukraine has destabilised energy markets and supply chains the world over."

His premiership has been marred by a series of controversies in recent weeks.

Mr Sunak was recently fined for not wearing a seatbelt while travelling in a moving car.

Rishi Sunak was filmed not wearing a seatbelt in a moving car
Rishi Sunak was filmed not wearing a seatbelt in a moving car. Picture: Instagram

Police previously said they were "looking into" a video of the prime minister not wearing a seatbelt in the back of a moving car, which was filmed as part of a promotional video.

The Prime Minister will pay the fine issued by Lancashire Constabulary and "fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised", a No10 spokesperson said.

They said: "The Prime Minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty."

The PM also came under fire for failing to sack former Conservative party chairman Nadhim Zahawi after it emerged he had paid a penalty to HMRC following to failure to pay the proper amount of tax.