Guy Verhofstadt, 68, has been reprimanded by Brexiteers after accusing Eurosceptic activists of lying about the single market. Writing on Twitter, Mr Verhofstadt said: ‘The Brexiteers lied.

“The reality check: trade is much more difficult outside the single market! “

Mr Verhofstadt, who served as Belgian Prime Minister from 1999 to 2008, accompanied his post with a picture indicating that UK trade flows have lagged behind major EU countries since 2006 and have continued to do so since that Britain left the Brussels bloc in 2016.

Not everyone welcomed the comments of the former chairman of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, however.

Tom Klik replied: “Obsessed with the UK! “

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Former Brexit MEP and Tory John Longworth, 63, added: ‘Total trade doesn’t matter.

“GDP and jobs are what matters.

“A country could not trade and remain the greatest creator of wealth.

“Trade is only necessary for efficiency and resources.”

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Britain’s Brexit imports from the Brussels bloc also fell 19% over the same period.

However, the proportion of EU imports to Britain and UK exports to the bloc has also declined in recent years.

In the 2016 referendum, the official pro-Brexit campaign group Vote Leave said it wanted to regain control of Britain’s trade and economy by pursuing free trade deals around the world.

Speaking on the economic benefits of Brexit, Vote Leave said: “We don’t have the power to strike free trade deals with fast-growing economies like India and China – or even key allies. like Australia and New Zealand “.

Since the UK severed ties with the single market and the EU customs union, Brexit Britain has signed tailor-made trade deals with its two Antipodes allies and even Japan.

The UK added the “world’s most comprehensive” digital trade deal with Singapore to its growing list last week.

Following the announcement of the UK-Singapore deal, International Trade Secretary and former member of the European Research Group Anne-Marie Trevelyan, 52, said: “We use our independent trade policy to make deals revolutionaries who update these rules for digital. aging and connecting UK businesses to the world’s largest and fastest growing markets.