- Brexit will make Britain worse off economically than staying in the EU, according to a leaked report.
- BuzzFeed News has obtained a UK government analysis examining the impact of the different forms Brexit may take.
- All of them – from membership of the European Economic Area to crashing out without a deal – would be worse than current projections.
No matter what form Brexit takes Britain will be worse off outside of the European Union (EU), according to a leaked government analysis obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The online news outlet has got its hands on a document prepared by Whitehall officials for the Department of Exiting the European Union looking at the economic impact of Britain’s exit from the EU under various scenarios, including a free trade agreement, single-market access and membership of the European Economic Area, and leaving the EU without any kind of deal.
In all three scenarios, Britain’s economic growth is predicted to be lower over the next 15 years than current expectations. With no deal, growth would be reduced by 8%; with a free trade agreement, it would be 5%; and 2% if the UK remained a member of the European Economic Area.
The leaked report was dated January 2018, and has the potential to inflame debate over the economic repercussions of leaving the European Union, as well as the government’s withholding of negative information about the process.
Brexit secretary David Davis was embroiled in conflict in late 2017 when Parliament attempted to force the release of Brexit impact studies – only for him to admit they did not exist as described after all. The documents that were ultimately released in December 2017 did not address how leaving the EU could impact key sectors of the UK economy.
An unnamed source from the Department of Exiting the EU told BuzzFeed News the new Brexit report wasn’t public “because it’s embarrassing.”
‘We are reading about an economy facing the abyss’
Anti-Brexit campaigners have seized on the leak. “Almost every community, region and sector of the economy included in the analysis would be negatively impacted. The case for or against Brexit should be about more than balance sheets, but it’s painfully clear that the numbers are a gloomy part of the story. And behind these numbers are thousands of jobs, businesses and homes that are at risk,” said Eloise Todd, CEO of Best for Britain, in an emailed statement.
“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.”
George Osborne, former chancellor-turned-newspaper editor and critic of Theresa May has also chimed in, tweeting in response to the story: “Well well”.
Well well https://t.co/CwWbdJ0kec
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) January 29, 2018
A government source downplayed the significance of the analysis, telling BuzzFeed News: “An early draft of this next stage of analysis has looked at different off-the-shelf arrangements that currently exist as well as other external estimates. It does not, however, set out or measure the details of our desired outcome – a new deep and special partnership with the EU – or predict the conclusions of the negotiations.”