In response to media reports of a revamped New Customs Partnership to be presented to the Cabinet at Chequers on Friday, Professor Patrick Minford CBE, Chairman of Economists for Free Trade, said:
“The Cabinet should not have their time wasted by being presented with a glorified fudge that would relegate the United Kingdom – one of the world’s biggest economies – to collecting taxes for the EU.
“A Brexit fudge would prevent the UK from embracing worldwide free trade and putting in place new pro-growth regulations. It would also allow unskilled workers from the poorer countries of the EU to enter the UK labour market freely with full access to taxpayer-funded benefits, inhibiting our ability to attract the best and brightest from non-EU countries. This would lose the UK 7 per cent of GDP – or around 0.5 per cent growth per annum over the next decade and a half.
“The EU have previously offered a Canada-style free trade deal with the UK. This would avoid putting on any UK-EU tariffs and would keep border costs essentially at zero.
“This is something that the UK Government should be working towards – there is simply no need for that ‘deep and close relationship’ which would see us stay in the EU in all but name. And, at the same time, we should push hard for the trade deal that President Trump has constantly offered – EU companies would then beat a path to our country to take advantage of this.
“If the EU continues to behave like an intransigent, petulant child, we should not continue to pander to them by endlessly fudging our negotiating position. We are in danger of becoming nothing more than a vassal state.
“Instead, we should opt for a World Trade Deal on WTO terms as we already do with some 60 per cent of our world trade.
“A clean break with the EU would boost the UK economy by 7 per cent of GDP and benefit the poorest in society by cutting the costs of food, clothing and footwear. A fudge would be a disaster.”