A government report on the economic consequences of various Brexit on the UK’s GDP over a 15-year period was leaked to the Buzzfeed website last week. The site published the broad conclusions of the analysis, but did not go much into the specifics. It led to calls in parliament for the document to be published and, following a “humble address” the government agreed that it would be made available to the Brexit Committee and could be viewed (in confidence) by MPs in a commons reading room. Within hours of the documents being made available to MPs, the BBC obtained details of the analysis on a regional basis.
The governments spokesman has been quick to point out (again) that the analysis is partial in so much as it does not reflect the government’s preferred outcome of a “bespoke” trading relationship between the UK and EU after Brexit which would allow for a frictionless flow of goods between the UK and EU and allow for continued trade in services whilst ending freedom of movement, membership of the single market and customs union and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice at the same time permitting the UK to sign free trade agreements with the rest of the world. It could be that the civil servants preparing the report didn’t include this option since it was dealing with likely trading scenarios and not concerned with magical thinking.
The analysis looks at three scenarios: full access to the single market; a comprehensive free trade deal; no deal at all. Under all scenarios, GDP declined over the study period by 2, 5 and 8% respectively (revealed last week). However, yesterday’s leak showed that the impact of these scenarios varied markedly across the UK. London fared best with declines of 1, 2 and 3.5%, but the north east would see falls of 3, 11 and 16%, for instance.
The impact of Brexit would be worse (ironically) in Brexit supporting regions. This probably reflects the fact that the support for Brexit probably was rooted less in disaffection with the EU per se, but general economic stress with concomitant shortfalls in public services that was conveniently vented in the direction of the EU. It also shows that leaving the EU will do nothing to address the underlying social and economic pressures which promoted the leave vote.