Trade Minister Francis Maude to step down as the trade gap reaches a record £125bn

Lord admits shocking data “isn’t good”

Francis Maude has revealed he will be stepping down as trade minister as the worst UK trade figures on record are published.

Lord Maude said he will quit “pretty soon” after cutting the UK Trade & Investment budget from £299m to £277m by 2020, despite dismal data.

The trade gap widened to £125bn last year, with critics predicting the UK will miss the target of doubling annual exports to £1 trillion by 2020, which was set in 2012. Official forecasters are putting the figure closer to £650bn.

Praising the Germans for their “brilliant” exporting, he added: “Because we specialise in self-deprecation we assume that everyone else gets the joke. We need to be out there, much more ‘salesy’ and punting our stuff.”

Appointed in May 2015, Lord Maude is the fifth trade minister in seven years. He said he will leave the post with a plan in place to tackle the UK’s trade deficit.

“I said I would do the diagnosis and the prescription piece of the job. It feels like this was the right break point,” he said.

 

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