SCOTTISH Conservative MP Andrew Bowie has been called out for a “car crash” BBC interview which saw him stumble over Brexit and trade – despite his position as a trade minister.

Bowie seemed to suggest that the UK Government was trying to negotiate trade deals with individual member states of the European Union – something which is not possible under the bloc’s rules.

He also repeatedly pointed to trade targets and goals, dodging questions about how the Tory government hoped to achieve them.

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Appearing on the BBC’s Politics Live, the Tory MP was challenged on research from Aston University which found the variety of UK products exported to the EU was down by 42% since Brexit.

The researchers behind the paper said this would have “serious implications for the UK’s future exporting and productivity”.

Asked on the BBC if he accepted that Brexit had made it more difficult to export goods and services, Bowie repeatedly refused.

“Our exit from the single market and customs union has obviously changed the relationship,” he said, “but we are determined to resolve the situation to make it easier for British exporters to get their goods onto shelves on the European continent”.

Bowie claimed it was getting easier to export to Europe “as each day goes past”, adding that the UK Government’s Department for International Trade was “committed to actually simplifying the process”.

Asked how they would do that, Bowie said they were “determined to drive up exports not just to the EU but around the world”.

As an example, the Tory exports minister pointed to trade deals such as the one with Australia – which former environment secretary George Eustice said was “not actually a very good deal” – insisting he “disagree[s] wholeheartedly” with that assessment.

Asked again how the UK Government would increase exports to the EU, Bowie said: “Various ways.”

“We’re in the middle of discussions,” he went on. “We’ve got a target of getting the UK up to a trillion pounds of exports, of course Europe is a major market for British goods, they want to buy our stuff.

“We’re working hard across the board to simplify the process by which British companies get their goods into Europe.”

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Asked again how that could be done, Bowie said they wanted to “simplify the customs process”, suggesting the UK was looking to negotiate agreements individually with EU member states.

Bowie said that EU states were “of course” receptive to the UK reaching out to them, sidestepping the EU itself.

This is despite the fact that, as the European Commission’s website spells out: “Trade outside the EU is an exclusive responsibility of the EU, rather than the national governments of member countries.”

Sharing a clip of the exchange, Best for Britain wrote on Twitter that it had been an “utter car crash” for Bowie.

The campaign group went on: “Doesn't accept Brexit has hurt exports; Promises to grow EU trade, but can't say how; Promises simplified processes, but can't say how; Thinks he can negotiate customs with EU members state-by-state.

“This man is exports minister!”

SNP MP Drew Hendry, his party's international trade spokesperson at Westminster, said- the "grim reality is that Brexit has been a disaster for Scotland and the UK’s economy and for businesses and trade".

He went on: "Once again, when faced with the damaging impact of Brexit on the economy and trade, the Tories have utterly failed in setting out how they plan to mitigate its impact or how they intend to properly support businesses. 

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“While Andrew Bowie and his Scottish Tory colleagues bury their heads deeper in the sand over the damage caused by Brexit, it’s ordinary people and businesses across Scotland that are being forced to pay the heavy price.

“With Labour and the Tories both committed to the damage and delusion of Brexit, it’s beyond any doubt that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests and rejoin the EU is to become an independent country.”

After Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, Bowie was rewarded for supporting him across two consecutive Tory leadership elections with a post as parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for International Trade.

He had previously been passed over for a vacant ministerial role in the Scotland Office, with Boris Johnson instead preferring to hand a life peerage to Malcolm Offord to allow him to take on the position.