A plan for a no deal Brexit endorsed by Jacob Rees-Mogg has been dismissed as “quite, quite mad”.
The leading backbencher claimed on Tuesday a no deal Brexit would boost the UK economy by £1.1 trillion over 15 years.
But Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned that by 2033 borrowing would be around £80bn-a-year higher under a no-deal scenario.
However Rees-Mogg said today that trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would be better than agreeing to Theresa May’s divisive Chequers plan, which was agreed in July. “The economy would thrive on a world trade deal,” he said.
Rees-Mogg, the leader of the powerful European Research Group (ERG) of backbench Brexiteer Tories, lent his endorsement to the plan produced by the Economists for Free Trade group.
The group presented its proposal at a meeting in parliament today attended by Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and others.
Economists for Free Trade argued adopting WTO rules would be the “very best” option and that there was “no evidence that EU membership had boosted UK economic growth”.
Economist Jonathan Portes told HuffPost UK the claim was “entirely false” and “obviously absurd”.
“If we leave the EU, the EU is perfectly within its rights (and indeed is largely legally obliged) to impose the same checks at and behind borders, including customs and safety that it currently does for non-EU members like the US.
“The idea that this will not result in costs and delays - which is what their modelling assumes - is garbage.”
This is quite, quite mad. But also fundamentally dishonest. Even taking modelling at face value, it's not a "World Trade Deal", it's unilateral abolition of all UK tariffs *and non-tariff barriers* - ie removing UK health, safety, environmental, emission standards on all imports. https://t.co/FfEwnykO2a
— Jonathan Portes (@jdportes) September 11, 2018
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign which is demanding a referendum on the final deal, said the claims were a “fantasy”.
“Brexit is forcing up prices in the shops, destabilising our economy and stripping our health service of the doctors and nurses that it so badly needs,” he said.
Rees-Mogg told the meeting today that the ERG would be putting forward its idea to solve the Northern Ireland border problem on Wednesday.
The Brexiteer Tory organisation has faced criticism from opponents who say it has attacked the government’s plans without coming up with one of its own to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, a main sticking point in discussions between Brussels and the Government.