Blog: Brexit missed opportunity? Economist claimed no-deal would boost UK economy by £135bn – Express

Brexit is splitting opinion once again in the UK as chaos in Dover revives old dividing lines. Thousands of travellers to France encountered huge queues on the south coast of Kent. While some blamed post-Brexit bureaucracy, others claimed that checkpoints were left understaffed. The chaos in Dover has seen Brexiteers once again clashing with Remainers more than two years after the UK officially left the EU.

The state of the UK economy has also reignited debate about Europe.

Britain left the EU with a deal, but a group of economists believed that a no-deal departure could have given the UK a £135billion boost.

Professor Patrick Minford, lead author of the report which was published by Economists for Free Trade in 2017, said a hard Brexit would have been “economically much superior to soft.”

He argued that there could have been major benefits to eliminating tariffs.

His argument was met with opposition, however.

Economist Dr Monique Ebell from the National Institute of Social and Economic Research accused Mr Minford of ignoring “decades of evidence on how trade actually works”.

Mr Minford’s report – From Project Fear to Project Prosperity – said that eliminating trade barriers both with European neighbours and other countries around the world, leading to an £80billion boost.

Deregulating the economy would have produced a further £40billion boost, he argued.

Speaking to Channel 4 at the time, Mr Minford was quizzed about his analysis.

He said: “What happens is the price of imports we currently pay a lot over the odds for from the EU will come down.

“There will be a terms of trade game, and also there will be a move of resources out of protected areas into higher proactivity areas including in manufacturing and farming.”

When asked about comments he had made previously about manufacturing in Britain taking a hit, he responded: “The point is that manufacturing, since the Brexit devaluation, there is a new situation where it is highly profitable.

READ MORE: Furious coffee shop owner slams Brexit halting EU staff flow

“So what we’ve got is a manufacturing that’s got an enormous (inaudible) over the short and medium term, to raise its productivity in the long term, and face a world economy at world prices which it already sells into.

“It’s a whole dynamic process whereby the British economy gets into a much more competitive situation.”

When the host pointed out that many economists disagreed with his outlook, Mr Minford said: “All these trumped up economists are hired hands, they work for Government and for big industry, which is against Brexit because it is inconvenient for them.

“The models that these guys use… do not match the facts of the UK economy. The facts of devaluation and the facts of free trade mean there is a future for manufacturing if it does the right things.”

In 2019, the Government released its own assessment of how a no-deal Brexit could impact the UK.

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It predicted that, without an EU trade agreement, the UK economy would have shrunk by 6.3 percent to nine percent after 15 years.

The UK left the EU with a deal in the end – how has the UK economy fared since?

The Office for Budget Responsibility has stuck by a prediction it made in 2020 – that Brexit will cut UK GDP by four percent.

UK businesses’ exports to EU has decreased, and the UK is now lagging behind its fellow G7 members in terms of economic recovery after the pandemic.

Jonathan Haskel, a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said last month that Brexit is “disconnecting the UK from its main trading partners”.

The Conservative Party remains adamant that Brexit can be successful, however.

Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss vowed last week to “bonfire” EU red tape, saying it had impacted UK growth.

She said: “As Prime Minister I will unleash the full potential of Britain post-Brexit, and accelerate plans to get EU law off our statute books so we can boost growth and make the most of our new-found freedoms outside of the EU.

“EU regulations hinder our businesses and this has to change. In Downing Street, I will seize the chance to diverge from outdated EU law and frameworks and capitalise on the opportunities we have ahead of us”.

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