Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Brexit paper 'leaked to undermine EU exit', Government minister claims

An assessment of the likely impact of various Brexit scenarios was leaked to undermine the exit talks, a Government minister has claimed.

The study, obtained by BuzzFeed News, found the country would be worse off under every Brexit scenario modelled, with the much-vaunted benefits of new trade deals predicted to add just 0.3% to GDP in the long-term.

Responding to calls for the full document to be made public, Brexit minister Steve Baker told MPs the paper was a "preliminary analysis" and the reporting of it was a "selective interpretation".

He also cast doubt on the accuracy of economic forecasts generally, telling the Commons there is "huge uncertainty" around such work and "these analyses have proven to be wrong in the wake of the referendum".

Mr Baker added: "It [the leak] is an attempt to undermine our exit from the European Union."

The leak comes amid a febrile atmosphere within the Conservative party over Brexit, with recriminations raging over both the handling of Britain's EU exit and Theresa's May leadership.

In a deepening of the Tory civil war on Europe, senior MP Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Chancellor Philip Hammond of "freelancing" on Brexit.

The impact assessment, titled EU Exit Analysis - Cross Whitehall Briefing, claims growth would be 8% less over 15 years if Britain is unable to negotiate a deal with Brussels.

Even the softest Brexit option - remaining in the bloc's single market - would see growth decline by 2% over the same period, it found.

And the recouped gains of new trade deals struck with the US, and other major world economies, would make up just 10% of the losses in growth, the analysis projected.

Mrs May has sought to play down the significance of the leak, telling her Cabinet that the paper represented "initial work" by officials and has not been signed off by ministers.

SKY   News.