‘Use Brexit windfall to honour £350m pledge’ – Rees-Mogg
A POST-BREXIT windfall predicted by pro-Leave economists should be used to boost the NHS by an extra £350m a week, prominent Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.
Launching a report by the Economists for Free Trade (EFT) group, Mr Rees-Mogg said he had not previously supported the health service pledge made by Leave campaigners during the referendum, but thought it was now essential to honour it.
With the EFT study predicting a £135bn boost for the UK after withdrawal, the Tory MP called for a radical reduction in import tariffs to make basic items cheaper. He said: “What I’m suggesting is that we have more money for the NHS, and that we have cheaper prices for food, clothing and footwear for the poorest in society.”
The EFT report predicted Brexit would be “overwhelmingly positive” for the British economy provided the Government adopts the right policies.
The findings are sharply at odds with most mainstream economists who have warned the UK faces lower growth and more pressure on the public finances as a result of the vote to leave.
Mr Rees-Mogg said official forecasts were based on “false assumptions” of the Treasury and that the outlook for the public finances is “much better” than the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is predicting.
Mr Rees-Mogg defended the Department for International Trade (DIT) for tweeting a link to a news report about the EFT study, which contained his comments on “false assumptions”, after Labour MP Chuka Umunna criticised the move.
The Tory MP said the EFT was helping the Treasury as Chancellor Philip Hammond had asked for ideas before next week’s Budget.
Mr Rees-Mogg said Britain should refuse to make any payments to the EU after Brexit if it does not secure a trade deal.
The EFT – headed by Professor Patrick Minford of Cardiff University – said the priority for the Government should be to bring down trade barriers with the rest of the world once Britain has left the EU, while reducing the burden of regulation and taxation on firms and individuals.
It argues a “dynamic stimulus from classic free trade” combined with continued restraint in public spending could provide “post-Brexit fiscal freedom” worth £135bn between 2020 and 2025, with a further £40bn a year from 2025.
> Jacob Rees-Mogg