Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin has said that the UK economy could grow faster following a no deal Brexit, and that economists who say it won’t have “got their maths wrong”.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s Cristo Foufas, Sir Bernard said that while he was “disappointed that we’re facing the prospect of leaving without an agreement”, it would mean the UK could trade on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms and he didn’t think that would necessitate the introduction of tariffs and checks at borders.
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“The vast majority of people, when we leave the EU on 29 March, probably won’t notice,” he said.
“If we leave without a formal withdrawal agreement depending on how much preparation has been done by both sides, that needn’t be very disruptive either, it is evident that France for example and the EU are both making arrangements to make sure the ports keep moving and we don’t seize up because we’re introducing customs checks at the ports.
Containers at the port of Felixstowe. Image: Getty
“There’s been a lot of hype about cliff edges and falling off the cliff and all this sort of rubbish, it really isn’t going to be like that.”
“But there will be inevitably disruption, if you have to bring in checks that aren’t already there. It’s going to cause disruption, it’s going to cause queues,” argued Foufas.
“It depends how many checks you’re going to introduce,” Sir Bernard replied.
“We import a great deal of stuff from outside the EU, I represent the port of Harwich, and only 2 or 3% of what comes in through Harwich and Felixstowe from outside the EU is physically checked, it’s all done digitally.
“The idea that there’s going to be a man with a clipboard looking at every single thing going in and out of Dover is complete rubbish, that won’t happen.”
'Economists aren't God'
The UK’s membership of the WTO comes as a result of its EU membership, but Sir Bernard said he didn’t think any other nations would “veto” it being a member in its own right.
“I don’t think it’s particularly convenient to leave without a withdrawal agreement, but it does have some other advantages - it means we would save £39 billion we’ve have otherwise given to the EU,” he said.
“We can use that money to cut business taxes and turbo charge the British economy.
“There’s been a set of economic forecasts that say if we leave without an agreement because of the measures the government will take the cushion that blow, we’ll actually grow the economy faster in the first couple of years.”
“That’s not the opinion of 80 leading economists though,” said Foufas, referencing a report in the Financial Times that said over 80 economists think Brexit would be “bad” or “awful”.
“Economists aren’t God, they don’t have great insight, they also have political opinions, most are likely to be pro EU,” argued Sir Bernard.
“They’re not fortune tellers, they do maths, and most of the time they get the maths wrong.
“The economists were all saying if we voted to leave the EU in 2016 there’d be a recession. That did not happen, and the reason it didn’t happen is that the government took measures to stop that, the result is the economy has carried on growing, unemployment has fallen.
“What these economists assume is they change a few assumptions and everything else remains the same. We’re not going to run the economy in the same way after the leave the European Union.”