The European Research Group (ERG) is a part publicly funded group of some 62 Conservative MP’s with the single issue of a hard Brexit as its aim. The current chairman is Jacob Rees-Mogg and along with Boris Johnson they are proving to be the main driving force in the opposition to the Chequers plan; proposed by the prime minister and Dominic Raab, as the ‘best deal’ for the UK’s exit from the EU.
Last week the group responded to criticism, that it was easy to rubbish Chequers from the side-lines whilst failing to declare any structured alternative, by announcing the imminent release of their own plan for Brexit. The plan described as a series of documents never materialised over the weekend and instead the ERG group opted to back the World Trade Organisation (WTO) paper; released on 11 September by the group Economists For Free Trade.
The ERG has stated that this is their preferred plan for Brexit and has also today announced its 19 page document which contains the group’s solution to the problem associated with the Irish border. We will consider the Irish proposal separately so for now let’s concentrate on the WTO plan.
So what does this new document propose? Well we believe that essentially it boils down to three issues:
Walk away from the negotiating table and abandon the Chequers approach by announcing to the EU that we will be operating under WTO rules.
Return to the negotiating table at a later date after 30 March2019 in a stronger position to make arrangements for new EU-UK issues such as: Citizens Rights, Nuclear safety and Aviation landing.
The economy will be much stronger as a result and the forecasts for growth, GDP and individual wealth are all positive under WTO rules.
As always the devil is in the detail and these are simply forecasts by pro Brexit economists and offer the counter argument to the ‘doom and gloom’ forecasts of the ‘Remainer’ economists. There is some justification to the claim that the report’s authors have been more efficient with the crystal ball gazing to date and the document is fairly comprehensive in its addressing and rebuttal of the ‘Remainers’ concerns.
There is an interesting dynamic emerging with the EU negotiators wishing to avoid the WTO scenario and keen on securing the £40 Billion leaving present, whilst the Prime Minister continues to pursue the Chequers plan, with no real prospect of success in having the deal agreed by parliament. It may be that the release of this report, at this time, has the opposite effect that its collaborators intended. This option may just scare the EU team into softening their approach and make a deal more likely. Time will tell.