Leaving EU would boost UK economy by 4 percent – economists

A worker answers a telephone in the office of Brexit group pressure group “Leave.eu” in London, Britain February 12, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy would be 4 percent larger 10 years after leaving the European Union than if it stayed in due to benefits from lower tariffs for imports from outside the bloc, economists supporting an exit said on Thursday.

Ahead of a June 23 EU membership referendum, a range of bodies from the country’s finance ministry to the International Monetary Fund have said Britain would be a lot worse off if it lost tariff-free access to the bloc’s single market.

Patrick Minford, a professor of economics at Cardiff University, said Britain should rely on tariff levels agreed at the World Trade Organisation, and that scrapping the EU’s external tariffs would lower consumer prices by 8 percent, and boost gross domestic product by 4 percent after around 10 years.

The benefits of bilateral trade deals were overrated and a lot of foreign investment was drawn to Britain by its underlying competitive strengths rather than its access to the rest of the EU, Minford said at a news conference in London organised by economists who support a so-called Brexit.

“There is no need for us to go off chasing a million trade deals with the rest of the world. They are irrelevant,” he said.

(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by William Schomberg)

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