The newly established Department for International Trade has muddied the waters on Brexit by issuing, and then deleting, a statement on the process of leaving the EU.
The statement, a cached version of which can still be found here, admits the UK could be left operating on World Trade Organisation rules after quitting the EU, until a fresh deal can be agreed.
However, it also makes a series of contradictory statements on the UK's future.
In one confusing passage, immediately after stating that “nothing changes until the UK has exited from the European Single Market”, the DFIT statement adds: “This won’t happen until at least two years after the UK has invoked Article 50, which formally withdraws the UK from the EU. Even then exporters will only be affected if the UK exits the European Single Market as well as the EU.”
The statement also cites “recent” research from 2013 to extol the virtues of exporting for exporters.
Exporting, DFIT said, “significant improved the profile or credibility of 87 per cent of exporters”.
What's more, in reassuring news for businesses of all stripes, the trade department claims “If you’re new to exporting, your products or services are very likely to have a market outside the UK.”
And entrepreneurial sorts will be thrilled to be told by the government that “exporting can both increase your profit margins and protect your business from economic instability by diversifying risk.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for International Trade said that the missive had been published "in error".