Sputnik: How much pressure is Prime Minister May currently under?
Patrick Minford: The situation is that obviously we'd like to have a trade deal with the EU, but if we don't have a deal, we can manage perfectly well.
[…] Forty billion euros or whatever is supposed to be the price for having a trade deal; this is really rather high and we could have that back, use it on our own spending.
Sputnik: What are the demands of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove?
Patrick Minford: […] What we want is some genuine cooperation over trade and a proper trade deal. Everyone would like to be friends and cooperative but not at any price. And that I think is what Mr. Gove and Mr. Johnson will be saying.
Sputnik: Would it be possible, do you think, for May to find a compromise over the divorce bill?
Patrick Minford: I should think so but it's not really a compromise in the Cabinet. It's much more whether the EU itself wants to be sensible over the trade deal or not.
The problem at the moment is that there are also some people who don't seem to want to do a serious deal and that's the case. Then there's no point in offering any money to placate them. So the biggest problem is that the EU itself is in a fairly peculiar situation – we don't really know what they want to do.
We want to really be willing to offer a lot of money for something that may not demand very much, so that's the issue.
Sputnik: Is the EU likely to agree to a compromise? What are the conditions likely to be?
Patrick Minford: From an economic point of view, the EU should want have a trade deal because they don't want to face barriers into our market, nor do they want to place barriers on our goods [entering] their market […].
Sputnik: How will the public in the UK react if the country has to pay this massive divorce bill?
Patrick Minford: […] I think everybody feels that it will be reasonable if it leads to a trade deal and I think public opinion will support it.
But if it's just seen as if we are offering money for [something and] we know not what, I think public opinion will be quite hostile.
Sputnik: If the economy in the UK continues to suffer as a result of Brexit, do you think this could potentially cost the Prime Minister her job?
Patrick Minford: The economy is not suffering from Brexit; it is in good shape and employment is rising. The only thing is that the labor markets are still quite weak in terms of wages, which is an issue for some people of course.
So I think the economy is doing well and I don't get [why] anyone's unhappy about the economy – free trade after Brexit will be good for it. […]