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Britain will be ‘worse off’ in every Brexit scenario, says leaked UK govt analysis

Britain is due to exit the EU on March 29, 2019, but there are deep divisions inside Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and party about what sort of relationship should replace 46 years of membership.

world Updated: Jan 30, 2018 20:19 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Brexit,Britain,European Union
Brexit is cast by supporters and opponents alike as the most significant shift in British policy since World War 2.(Reuters File)

Rival groups in the Brexit debate came to a head again on Tuesday after a leaked official analysis claimed that Brexit will leave the United Kingdom worse off.

BuzzFeed reported that the analysis by the department for exiting the European Union, titled “EU Exit Analysis - Cross Whitehall Briefing” and dated January 2018, looked at three possible Brexit scenarios. All scenarios suggested that the country’s economy will take a hit outside the EU.

It said the UK’s national income would be 8% lower under a “no deal” scenario, around 5% lower with a free trade agreement with the EU and about 2% lower with a soft Brexit option of single market membership over a 15-year period.

The analysis, allegedly leaked by pro-EU elements in the government, was promptly dismissed by pro-Brexit MPs, who called it “highly suspicious”, while it added more grist to the anti-Brexit forces who are keen to ensure as close a link with the EU as possible.

As the opposition Labour and other MPs demanded publication of the analysis, an embarrassed Theresa May government chose to remain silent, but unnamed sources pointed out that the analysis did not cover May’s preferred option of a bespoke deal amounting to a “deep and special partnership” with the EU, whose contours, however, remain unknown.

George Osborne, the pro-EU former chancellor who was sacked by May and now intervenes as editor of mass circulation of Evening Standard, weighed in. In a Tuesday editorial, he wrote: “Governments do harmful things all the time by accident or out of ignorance — but to do so willingly, consciously and without telling the public the truth is different.

“Every time we hear the prime minister tell us that her plan is to build a strong economy, we know that she is being advised that the plan will cost Britain dear. Every time we hear ministers tell us any loss from Brexit will be fixed by free trade deals, we now know that the analysis shows this is untrue.”

The government’s Brexit initiatives also came under criticism as the House of Lords debated the withdrawal bill, which seeks to transpose EU law into British law after the exit is formalised. Amendments have been tabled to give parliament the last say on accepting or rejecting the final deal supposed to be reached before the March 2019 deadline.

The leak was raised in the House of Commons, with Labour insisting on the government releasing its analysis on the impact of Brexit on various sectors.

First Published: Jan 30, 2018 16:12 IST