Analysis

Why is May hiding truth about Brexit? Because it’s grim.

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 19.10.2017

The government says it won’t publish its 50 “impact assessments” on the consequences of Brexit for different sectors of the economy because it would undermine our negotiating position. That’s hogwash.

Jolyon Maugham QC and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato have threatened legal action to flush out the papers. Should they succeed, the government can take comfort from the fact the EU already knows what cards we’re holding.

If these studies showed no deal meant no damage, the government would have already published them. After all, if we walk away we lose nothing; we’re the ones doing the EU a favour here. Instead, the government has buried the reports – suggesting no deal is really quite bad – which, indeed, it is, despite the attempts by Brexit extremists to pretend otherwise, as they have in an open letter to Theresa May today.

The government isn’t just refusing to publish its impact assessments on different sectors of the economy. It is refusing to say whether it has done any studies on the regional impact. Either it really hasn’t done any analysis, in which case it is being irresponsible. Or it is hiding the truth.

What about the argument that we shouldn’t show the EU our cards? Well, as former UK-EU policy negotiator Andrew Hood puts it, the UK has relied on the EU to conduct trade talks on our behalf for decades and so will “know our position very well”. In addition to things we’ve told the EU, information also flows from the lobbying of multinational firms with a foot in both camps.

What’s more, the EU has its own economists who can analyse the data we publish. The bloc has published its own impact assessment of Brexit, finding the losses for the remaining 27 countries to be “virtually insignificant”, and the losses for the UK to be “over ten times greater as a share of GDP”.

Between the signals we’re sending and the things the EU already knows, the idea that hiding these assessments strengthens our position is for the birds. The only people kept in the dark are the British public and our MPs. Taking back control?

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

2 Responses to “Why is May hiding truth about Brexit? Because it’s grim.”

  • The whole thing is back to front. The right time to do impact assessments is before taking a decision, not after; and the results should be made known to the decision takers, namely in this case the voters in the referendum. What a way to run a business.

  • Austerity plus Brexit equals misery for millions the sunlit uplands of brexitshire will be inhabited by millions of poverty striken people and our brexitters will praise the benefits of poverty as long as they remain unaffected