The government says the volume of freight exports from Great Britain to the European Union has returned to normal, in spite of the new post-Brexit barriers to trade with the EU, and restrictions related to the pandemic. “The latest available data shows that overall freight volumes are back to their normal levels,” a government spokesman said.

Its internal data shows that the flow of roll-on roll-off freight (which can be driven on and off a ferry or a train) going to the EU in early February was at 98% of the levels seen during the same period in 2020.

But beneath the headline claim the picture is more complicated, with a much larger number of lorries returning to the EU empty in 2021. That means the value of freight exports so far this year will have fallen.

In addition, comparisons with the same period last year are not ideal, because it also saw disruption of normal trade patterns, as the UK prepared to leave the EU.  Government data shows that the number of lorries crossing from Britain to the EU is now close to what officials would expect. But if far more of them are empty, that doesn’t help very much.

The government’s definition of volume of trade includes lorries that are empty. The most important route for trade with Europe is between Dover and Calais (known as the Short Straits) – both the sea route and the Channel Tunnel. Read More on BBC News