- UK Parliament (CC)
- A leaked Whitehall report forecasting that Brexit will make Britain worse off economically has caused political turmoil.
- One government minister has even said the UK would need to question whether it went through with Brexit if the figures are accurate.
- Labour plans to force a binding vote on whether the government should release the full analysis.
A minister has said that the British government would have to question whether it could go ahead with Brexit if a leaked analysis of the impact of the UK leaving the European Union is accurate.
In an striking public statement that could further fuel debate about the cost of Brexit, justice minister Dr. Philip Lee MP wrote on Twitter that 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.”
On Monday, BuzzFeed News published a bombshell report detailing a secret Whitehall briefing paper (dated January 2018) exploring the likely impact of the various forms Brexit could take. Under each of the three examples – membership of the European Economic Area, a comprehensive free trade deal, and crashing out of the EU without a deal – it predicted that Britain would be worse off economically than current projections.
Theresa May’s government has downplayed the document’s significance, with Brexit minister Steve Baker saying the “horror story predictions” of economists are frequently wrong.
But pro-Europe campaigners and politicians have jumped on the data as evidence of the perceived dangers of Brexit. “The government are calling this document embarrassing but it’s more than that. It is a colossal act of economic self harm, written down clearly, in black and white. We are reading about an economy facing the abyss,” said Eloise Todd, CEO of anti-Brexit group Best for Britain.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Conservative MP Dr. Philip Lee called for careful consideration of the leaked analysis. “The next phase of Brexit has to be all about the evidence. We can’t just dismiss this and move on. If there is evidence to the contrary, we need to see and consider that too.
“But 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. This shows the PM’s challenge.”
He added: “The PM has been dealt some tough cards and I support her mission to make the best of them. It’s time for evidence, not dogma, to show the way. We must act for our country’s best interests, not ideology & populism, or history will judge us harshly. Our country deserves no less.”
But 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. This shows the PM's challenge…2/3
— Dr Phillip Lee MP (@DrPhillipLeeMP) January 30, 2018
Theresa May has refused to make the full report public, and Labour now plans to force a binding vote in Parliament on whether it should be released.