In the first month since Brexit on terms agreed by Boris Johnson’s government, official trade figures showed exports of goods to the EU plunged by 40.7%, or £5.6bn, in the biggest monthly fall in UK imports and exports to the bloc in more than 20 years.
The slump in trade with the EU, excluding gold and other precious metals, is a reflection of disruption at UK borders.
January saw the biggest monthly fall in imports and exports since Office for National Statistics records on trade began in 1997.
ONS figures published on Friday also revealed that Britain’s economy shrank in January by the most since the first wave of the Covid pandemic while tougher lockdown measures were in place to contain the spread of the virus.
The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product fell by 2.9% on a month earlier, much less than expected, after the government launched tough restrictions in response to rising infections, including the closure of schools, non-essential shops and hospitality. City economists had forecast a decline of 4.9%.
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