Change Britain, a pro-Brexit campaign group that claims a hard Brexit would provide 400,000 new jobs has been torpedoed by some economists.

Hard Brexit is the campaign to leave both the single market and the customs union.  Change Britain argued that this could ultimately be positive as new independently negotiated trade deals with the U.S, China, Canada, South Korea, and the South American Mercosur group would create jobs.

They stated that should a deal be struck with Japan and other Asian states, 400,000 new jobs would be created.

However, this has been disputed by Jonathan Portes, professor of economics and senior fellow at the thinktank UK in a Changing Europe.  He said, “Successful free trade deals would increase both exports and imports. Calculating, as Change Britain does, a speculative figure for the number of jobs created by additional exports while ignoring the jobs lost as a result of additional imports is either deeply ignorant or deliberately misleading.”

He went on to warn that there would be few benefits with free trade deals with countries like South Korea, saying,  “The report scores the impact of the EU-Korea FTA as a benefit from Brexit.

“Since this has been in force since 2011 – and would not necessarily continue post-Brexit, although it may well do so – this is a potential cost, not a benefit. Whatever your view on the economics of Brexit, Change Britain are again doing their best to distort the debate.”

Simon Tilford, the deputy director of the Centre for European Reform thinktank, was more scathing of Change Britain’s ideas.  He said, Change Britain “seem to assume that leaving the deepest and biggest customs union and free trade agreement in the world, the EU, with which we do half of our trade, will not have any negative economic implications and will not cost employment – that’s an unserious proposition.”

Britain is expected to trigger Article 50 which is the formal process for leaving the EU this year.