Mr Baron was speaking days after an International Monetary Fund (IMF) analysis painted a rosy picture of the UK economy, in sharp contrast to former chief Christine Lagarde’s predictions of doom and gloom heading into the 2016 referendum. The IMF is predicting growth of 1.4 percent this year and 1.5 per percent in 2021, in each case better than in the Euro Area, where the figures are 1.3 percent and 1.4 percent respectively – and Mr Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay in Essex, suggested the figures demonstrated the importance of showing faith in the robustness of the UK economy. He explained: “I do sense that one of the defining characteristics of this debate is whether you are an optimist or not.
“I think that self-belief in our country will grow when perhaps those who are doubtful realise that actually we are doing quite well economically.
“Project Fear predicted just that – the CBI in the spring of 2016 predicted 9150,000 job losses within a couple of years, the Bank of England and the IMF were talking about a recession by Christmas 2016 if we voted Leave.
“All that was proved wrong – we’ve had three years of so-called uncertainty and what’s happened in those three years?
“Well, actually the British economy has performed better than most.
With this in mind, Mr Baron also suggested it was now time to begin moving beyond Brexit, urging everyone to tone down some of the rhetoric.
He said: “Some of the language on both sides was unfortunate but I think the EU has woken up to the reality that we are serious in what we are now saying.
“I think it was a good move that the Commons has ruled out extending the period for negotiating a trade deal beyond the end of this year – I think that will help to focus minds.
“I’m more optimistic than some in believing that we should be able to negotiate a trade deal in this time period – I don’t see why it would be a problem.”
He also suggested Brexit represented a fantastic opportunity for Britain to branch out into the wider world by striking massive trade deals with third countries, not just the United States but others including Thailand and Brazil, as part of a ‘global Britain’ strategy.
He said: “For too long the European Union has been a focal point.
“Europe is important but I would suggest it is no more important than any other part of the world.
“At the end of the day, we are all global citizens.
“We have an immigration system whilst we are in the European Union which in effect discriminates against the rest of the world outside the EU.