Europe

Brexit pushback as MPs defend the UK’s exit over economic woes

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The Conservative Government is putting Brexit in danger by failing to take advantage of its benefits, Nigel Farage has warned. The former leader of the Brexit Party and member of the European Parliament suggested the Tories had “made life too easy for rejoiners” after a report leaked to The Independent by the Centre for European Reform (CER) claimed Britain’s economy was 5.5 percent smaller than it could have been if it had remained in the European Union. But Conservative MPs have hit back at the research, claiming it was based on “made up numbers” and failed to recognise the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP described the results as “speculative” and accused the CER of being “naysayers returning to their folly”. 

Speaking to the Express.co.uk, Nigel Farage said: “Sadly the useless Tories have made life too easy for the rejoiners.” 

His comments were in light of the CER report suggesting that Brexit had cost the UK £33billion in lost trade and investment.

The research was modelled on the performance of a “doppleganger” UK using data from other advanced economies similar to Britain prior to Brexit, including the US, Germany, Norway and Australia.

Based on their progression since 2016, it suggested that the UK’s goods trade is 7 percent lower as a result of Brexit. 

Regarding investment, it report stated it was 11 percent lower than it would have been if the UK had remained a part of the European Union. 

John Springford, deputy director of the CEF, said: “Brexit has clearly had a significant impact on the economy. There has been a sizeable hit on trade and investment.

“There has been a very, very clear effect on investment in the UK ever since the 2016 vote – it has completely flatlined. That is not true of other similar economies. It is feeding into slow growth because it lowers productivity.”

But Conservative MPs have accused the report of “being developed by a group who is just totally in love with the European Union” and questioned its validity. 

John Redwood, MP for Wokingham in Berkshire since 1987, described the 5.5 percent projection as “complete nonsense”. 

He said: “It does not marry with any figures that I have seen that other countries have published and the EU economy has been doing pretty badly. I mean, we were growing faster than the EU economy last year and this year it looks like both are going into slowdown.” 

He suggested the CER were just “putting out their view, which is based on the eternal European Union false proposition that [Brexit] was just about trading arrangements and they are now worse”. 

Mr Springford also said in the CER report that he was “confident” the impact of Covid had not “skewed the picture” presented in the findings. 

But Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Peter Bone MP suggested, nonetheless, it had “totally changed economic performance”. 

He said: “Nobody can say what has caused anything because of the Covid crisis. The Covid hit to the economies and the war in Europe have totally changed economic performance. I mean, you cannot possibly argue that that has anything to do with Brexit.”

He added: “I would say that that report is completely wrong and it is being developed by a group who is just totally in love with the European Union. I think their arguments actually make the case for Brexit.” 

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Former cabinet minister Jacob Rees Mogg went further, accusing the CER of guesswork and engaging in a “fool’s errand”. 

He said: “As the biblical dog returneth to his vomit so the Remainer naysayers return to their folly. The opportunity of Brexit in new trade deals, deregulation especially in the City, a simpler and cheaper approach to procurement are all now happening. 

“To try to guess where the economy would be with the effects of Covid and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a fool’s errand that produces speculative results.”

Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich from 2019, said that “all countries are struggling” post pandemic and accused the report of “continuing to try and blame all these challenges on Brexit for their own purposes”. 

He said: “Leaving the EU was one of the reasons why we had such a fast vaccine roll out and this has helped us significantly in opening our economy up earlier than others.”

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