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The leaked Brexit impact paper entitled “EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing” raises important questions for both Remainers and Leavers about Britain’s future.


The three scenarios modelled in this analysis all show a damaging reduction in economic growth for a UK outside of the EU. The ‘No Deal’ scenario whereby we would revert to WTO rules would result in an 8% reduction in growth over the next 15 years. A comprehensive free trade agreement would lead to a 5% reduction in growth and the softest Brexit option of remaining inside the European Economic Area (which gives access to the single market) would lower growth by 2%. 


All the scenarios modelled assume that there will be a trade deal with the US. This would add just 0.2% to GDP in the long term. Collectively, all other possible trade deals with non-EU countries and trading blocs would add between 0.1% and 0.4% to GDP. Therefore, in the most optimistic outcome possible, Brexit would result in a loss of 1.4% of GDP. The current cost of our full EU membership is only 0.5% of GDP. And any access to any aspect of the EU after Brexit will still have to be paid for. 


Steve Baker, the mouthpiece of DExEU in the absence of David Davis, declared that the papers were nothing more than drafts: a work in progress that had yet to be completed or approved by Ministers. However, they were prepared by Civil Servants and at the instruction of DExEU. They were not the output of the Treasury or those independent experts that the Brexiteers hold in contempt. The bottom line is that the figures were not those that the Brexiteers desire. If the paper had not been leaked, would David Davis and his cohorts at DExEU have sent them back for further work? Would they have been manipulated until the figures were made to conform with the requirements of the Brexiteers? 


DExEU also complained that not all scenarios had been modelled. The scenario that had not been modelled was the one whereby Britain gets the deal with the EU that the EU has made perfectly clear is not and never will be on offer. The modelling of fiction would be a worthless exercise that could only result in more fiction - and at the expense of the tax payer.


Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit select committee, expressed surprise at the emergence of the leaked papers because David Davis told the select committee in December that no sectoral analyses were being undertaken by DExEU. In addition to being concerned about the questionable truth of Davis’s assertion, we should be uncomfortable with the prospect of a Minister of State withholding information that does not fit with the desired story. 


In response to the leaked papers Dr Phillip Lee, Conservative MP & Justice Minister, said: “if these figures turn out to be anywhere near right, there would be a serious question over whether a government could legitimately lead a country along a path that the evidence and rational consideration indicate would be damaging.” 


We have the truth. A painful truth. Brexit will make us poorer. It will take a terrible toll upon our economy. It will not provide the additional funds that our NHS so desperately needs. It will harm the most disadvantaged areas of our country. With the exception of the most wealthy, Brexit will negatively impact upon each and every one of us. 


We were not meant to hear this truth. It was not destined for our eyes and ears. That is an insult to Parliament and an insult to every member of the British electorate. Excepting in extreme cases of national security, there are no circumstances in which the government has the right or the remit to withhold information from our elected MPs. It is now imperative that our MPs resist any legislation that further concentrates power into the hands of the government. And we should all think extremely carefully about the desirability of Brexit. If the Remain campaign was ‘Project Fear’, Brexit is ‘Project Poor’.


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