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Department for Exiting the European Union

Part of Ministry of Defence – in the House of Commons at 8:56 pm on 26th February 2018.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 8:56 pm, 26th February 2018

I made the point a moment ago that Government economists and the Treasury are not the only people who are trying to look at the economic impact of leaving the European Union and what the alternative models might produce. I presume that all the other ones have already been published; they all show the same picture. Indeed, the best indication we have had since the referendum result of what the world thought of the British economy’s future value came the day after, when the pound fell. The world looked at the United Kingdom and said, “You’re not going to be as well off as you were. The economy is still going to grow”—let us not get that wrong—“but it will grow less than it would have done had we not left.”

All I am arguing is that we should make the effort to try to understand. Having been a Cabinet Minister and having looked at many impact assessments when legislation was coming forward, I know that we do this for all sorts of things that are really quite minor by comparison with this absolutely fundamental change that the country is facing. That is why, for me, it is inexplicable that so little work has been undertaken by the Government in an attempt to assess the situation so people can then look at it. The other point I would make is that if that assessment had shown that the British economy would be better off, the report would not only have been published yonks ago, but would already be gathering dust on our bookshelves.