Lea says she was joking when she said she made figures up

by Jekaterina Drozdovica | 09.08.2019

A prominent pro-Brexit economist accused a journalist and the Treasury of making figures up on live television this week. Ruth Lea added she “made figures up” herself when she worked at Treasury. 

Torcuil Chrichton, the Daily Record’s Westminster editor, said on the BBC that Ireland was bracing itself for a “massive hit” to the economy – “5% of GDP”, in the event of a hard Brexit. He continued that it was “actually less than some areas of the UK will feel from a hard Brexit, Scotland and North would feel, and Northern Ireland itself.” 

“You’re making the figures up now,” Lea responded. “You’re making the figures up for the UK.”

Crichton stated the figures are from the Treasury. Lea said she didn’t believe those because “they just made them up”. “I was in the Treasury,” she said. “I made figures up when I was in the Treasury.”

The presenter interrupted: “Really? Did you really?” The economist, who worked as a statistician in the Treasury until 1988, quickly changed her mind saying: “No, I forecast things, I estimated things”. “You didn’t make them up?” the presenter persisted. “No, I didn’t make them up,” she said. 

Crichton was correct in his use of statistics. A report from the Irish government said that “compared to a no-Brexit baseline, ten years after Brexit, GDP in Ireland would be around…. 4.8 per cent lower in a no deal and 5 per cent lower in a disorderly no deal.” 

Meanwhile, the journalist told InFacts he took his UK figures from a BBC report of a government analysis from last year. This predicts that the UK’s GDP will be 7.7% lower under no deal than the current forecast over a 15-year period – and that Scotland would face a 9% hit, North East England 16%, North West England 12% and Northern Ireland 12%.

Lea told InFacts: “My comments were tongue in cheek and not to be taken literally. I would have thought that was obvious.” 

It seems like some Brexiters will go to any lengths to win an argument – even accusing others of inventing statistics.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

3 Responses to “Lea says she was joking when she said she made figures up”

  • Brexiter makes stuff up shocker.

    I do wonder about the direction of causation. Is it that fantasists are drawn to Brexit, in which case it is entirely consistent that Lea did indeed invent statistics while at the treasury, or does the Brexit cult induce cognitive dissonance?

    Either way, her credibility is completely shot.


  • Do these people actually believe the nonsense they spout? The earth is evidently flat, the sun orbits the earth and human sacrifices will soon have to be made to appease the angry brexit god. At least Minford has the decency to acknowledge that the Uk will be screwed.

  • I sometimes wish that those who advocate a Brexit at any price could be held accountable before the courts for the incalculable damage caused to peoples’ livelihoods. Their defense will, no doubt, be that it is the fault of the European Union!