‘The pub­lic is be­wil­dered by con­flict­ing pre­dic­tions’

The Sunday Telegraph - - Politics -

Dear Chan­cel­lor,

It is im­per­a­tive, as we ap­proach votes on the Govern­ment’s pro­posed fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the EU, that we have an open de­bate on the Govern­ment’s mod­el­ling. It is un­ac­cept­able that the Govern­ment leaks the re­sults of its mod­el­ling when it suits but si­mul­ta­ne­ously hides what lies be­hind these fore­casts from the pub­lic.

The Cross White­hall Brexit anal­y­sis leaked to the news web­site Buz­zfeed early this year and sub­se­quently “pub­lished” in the form of 24 Pow­erPoint slides, fore­casts a 7.7per cent hit to GDP un­der a World Trade Deal un­der WTO rules and a 4.8per cent con­trac­tion un­der Canada Plus.

While all such fore­casts are only in­di­ca­tors of or­ders of mag­ni­tude and gen­eral di­rec­tion, in­de­pen­dent pri­vate sec­tor fore­casts and those of White­hall are wildly far apart, many of which fore­cast a pos­i­tive im­pact on GDP. Such dif­fer­ences have huge con­se­quences for Brexit strat­egy and the long-term tra­jec­tory of fu­ture pub­lic ex­pen­di­ture, tax­a­tion, and bor­row­ing.

Your re­cent ev­i­dence to the Lords’ Eco­nomic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee con­firms that the key points of dif­fer­ence are now the ben­e­fits ac­cru­ing from free trade agree­ments and the im­pact of any pos­si­ble new non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers. With re­gard to the lat­ter, you ap­pear to be­lieve that the EU will be­have il­le­gally and in de­fi­ance of WTO rules that are backed by the in­ter­na­tional le­gal or­der.

Dif­fer­ences in as­sump­tions must be de­bated in de­tail and re­solved.

Adopt­ing a con­struc­tive and trans­par­ent ap­proach would be in the na­tional in­ter­est. The gen­eral pub­lic is bat­tered and be­wil­dered by con­flict­ing pre­dic­tions of the fu­ture path of the econ­omy fol­low­ing Brexit, fu­elling a grow­ing sus­pi­cion that White­hall is en­gag­ing in what is ap­par­ently known in­ter­nally as “pol­icy-based ev­i­dence­mak­ing”.

We there­fore pro­pose that you pub­lish in full de­tail the Cross White­hall Brexit anal­y­sis and the un­der­ly­ing mod­els and as­sump­tions so that ex­perts from all sides can study its method­ol­ogy, as­sump­tions, and con­clu­sions.

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