Conservative Brexit plans could cause UK £20bn annual shortfall, academic group says

PUBLISHED: 09:57 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:57 03 December 2019

A group of academics have said there are serious “unclear and unrealistic” Brexit goals in the manifestos of every party, but current Conservative plans could economically cripple the UK. Photo: PA

A group of academics have said there are serious "unclear and unrealistic" Brexit goals in the manifestos of every party, but current Conservative plans could economically cripple the UK. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

A group of academics have said there are serious 'unclear and unrealistic' Brexit goals in the manifestos of every party, but current Conservative plans could economically cripple the UK.

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The UK in a Changing Europe, a thinktank of researchers and academics promoting independent research into UK-EU relationships, say "even under the scenario of a Conservative Brexit that leads to a free trade agreement, there would be an annual fiscal shortfall of at least £6 billion and potentially as much as £20 billion."

A World Trade Organisation, no-deal exit in December 2020 could push that number as high as £28 billion, the group says.

In a new report authored by nine researchers including professors of economics and EU law from Cambridge University and King's College, it is suggested "neither the Conservative nor Labour party address how Brexit would affect their wider economic strategies and ambitions".

The group adds: "Analysis of the party manifestos reveals numerous statements on Brexit to be vague and potentially unrealistic."

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The UK in a Changing Europe also list a number of examples of "unclear, unfeasible, misleading and missing statements" in party manifestos, including that the Conservatives rule out extending transition beyond 2020 and do not discuss what will happen if a trade deal is not secured by then.

"To achieve a deal in 12 months the government needs to be clear what they want the future relationship to look like yet there is little clarity in the manifesto," the thinktank says. "Securing a trade deal in a year requires difficult and painful concessions on both sides on politically sensitive issues, such as fisheries, agriculture and manufacturing.

"The talks are also likely to be complicated by non-trade issues like Gibraltar."

However the group does add that Labour's proposal to negotiate a new Brexit deal and hold a referendum in six months is also demanding.

The group of researchers also argue it is "extremely optimistic" for the Tories to suggest they will have 80% of UK trade covered by free trade agreements within the next three years.

Anand Menon, direcotr of the group, said: "The harder the Brexit, the more difficult the already problematic economic and fiscal arithmetic will become for any government.

"One way or another, this election may 'Get Brexit Done', but the economic impacts will be with us for the next parliament and beyond."

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