‘Use Brexit wind­fall to hon­our £350m pledge’ – Rees-Mogg

Western Mail - - NEWS -

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

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