‘The public is bewildered by conflicting predictions’
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.