THE UK could boost its GDP by £1.3bn if the country left the EU and negotiated a looser relationship with Brussels, according to the winner of a competition to design a “Brexit” plan.
The Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) announced a competition last year to plan a potential exit from the EU for the UK, in the scenario that the British people voted to leave the bloc in a referendum.
This evening the IEA announced that the winner of the prize was Iain Mansfield, director of trade and investment at the UK embassy in the Philippines.
Mansfield pockets the group’s €100,000 (£82,360) prize for his blueprint, which would see the UK take a relationship somewhere between Switzerland’s and Turkey’s in terms of its closeness to the EU.
The plan suggests that the UK joins the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), like Switzerland, but not the European Economic Area, allowing the UK to negotiate its own trade agreements when necessary. The programme would likely see the UK shed the EU’s free movement of people, contributions to the EU budget and free movement of agricultural goods.
However, the country would hang on to partial free movement of services, as well as free movement of goods.
The impact on GDP would be a £1.3bn boost in Mansfield’s most likely estimate, and as high as £16.1bn in his best case scenario. However, he concedes that the worst case scenario could hit UK GDP by £40bn.
Lord Lawson, former chancellor and chairman of the competition’s judging panel said: “Iain Mansfield's prize-winning entry provides an excellent starting point for this important debate, written with the experience of a serving member of the diplomatic corps with a solid background in trade policy.”
Mansfield adds that as the UK exits the EU, it could then bring in a new “great repeal bill” to roll back the regulations brought in through EU directives, using the example of the working time directive.