Economist Julian Jessop has said that a new report suggesting Brexit could lead to up to 5,600 diet-related deaths per year is “a classic example of Project Fear”.
Mr Jessop, Head of the Brexit Unit at Institute of Economic Affairs told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “I appreciate it is before the watershed so I can’t say what I really think about this research but I’ll give you a clue.
“This is a classic example of Project Fear it takes a very few extreme scenarios backed by assumptions that I don’t think are credible.
“It comes up with a really scary answer and I think that is counter-productive.”
Brexit could also lead to additional healthcare spending of £600m, and increase the GDP losses of Brexit by up to 50%, according to the report.
'It is very dangerous'
Mr Jessop said these “non-credible” assumptions included the concern that the pound may fall further.
He said: “The assumption that food prices will rise seems to be based on maybe one of three things; one is the idea that the UK would decide to impose tariffs on imports from the European Union so that the food we import from the EU becomes more expensive.
“We don’t have to do that, alternatively we could lower tariffs on imports from the rest of the world.
“The net change in terms of tariffs would mean we were paying less for imported food rather than more."
He added: “There are also concerns sterling might fall further and that would make imports more expensive.
“But, I think it is very dangerous to base any analysis on a currency. It seems just as likely that the currency will recover.”
'Eat less fruit and vegetables'
Author of the report, Dr Marco Springmann was also speaking to Matthew Wright and said eating “less fruit and vegetables” was one of the contributing factors to these deaths.
He said: “We know if we eat less fruit and vegetables for example, the risk of getting heart disease, strokes and certain types of cancers will go up.
“Over time, that results in more diseased cases and more deaths. We calculated after ten years what would happen every year after ten years.”