Removing tariffs could mean £135bn annual boost to economy, claim pro-Brexit economists

Posted On: 
20th August 2017

The UK could secure a big economic boost by unilaterally removing tariffs on all imported goods, a group of pro-Brexit economists have claimed.

Goods being unloaded at the Suffolk port of Felixstowe
Credit: 
PA

The Economists for Free Trade group foresees an uplift of some £80bn a year from getting rid of tariffs, with another £40bn coming from cutting red tape.

Lead author Professor Patrick Minford said the "ideal" solution would be a set of trade deals, including with the EU. 

Government to publish new Brexit papers as Davis urges EU to start trade talks

Liam Fox demands power to bypass Scotland and Wales on trade deals - report

Theresa May to focus on defence and trade during Japan visit

However he said that the prospect of the UK deciding to get rid of all tariffs would pressurise other countries to offer a good trade deal. 

A British market "flooded with less expensive goods from elsewhere" would immediately put European exporters at a disadvantage, Prof Minford argues in his introduction to the report.

The Cardiff University academic has already provoked controversy by suggesting that Brexit will "eliminate manufacturing" and leave an economy made up of industries such as "design, marketing and tech". 

The cross-party pro-European group Open Britain dismissed Prof Minford's suggestions as "economic suicide".

"Unilaterally scrapping our tariffs without achieving similar reductions in the tariff rates of other countries would see Britain swamped with imports, leaving our manufacturers and farmers unable to compete," said Labour MP Alison McGovern.

"The levels of bankruptcy and unemployment, especially in industry and agriculture, would sky-rocket."