Andrew Bridgen condemns Treasury's negative assessment of the economic impact of Brexit

31st January 2018

Andrew Bridgen responds to the civil service's Brexit economic impact report by recalling “Project Fear” based on Treasury predictions which claimed there would be economic meltdown immediately after the referendum if we voted to leave the European Union.

My hon. Friend is making a great point. We all remember “Project Fear”. Will he confirm beyond doubt that those Treasury predictions related not to effects that would happen after Brexit but to what would happen immediately after we voted to leave the European Union?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am looking at the forecast of 500,000 more unemployed, and it relates to the beginning of 2018. The Treasury produced a little chart showing just how bad it would be, how joblessness would rise and how if people did not vote the right way they would lose their jobs and be visited by recession.

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I, too, was worried about “Project Fear”, and I wrote to the Treasury after the referendum asking it to name and shame the 80% of economists who had claimed that there would be absolute meltdown if we voted to leave the European Union. The Treasury refused to name and shame them. I wanted their names because I wanted to ensure that they never got a job anywhere near government because their predictions were so bad, but the reason that the Treasury would not name and shame them was that they were already working there. They are the architects of this latest report.

Again, my hon. Friend makes a forceful point, and they are not just in the Treasury.

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Has the hon. Lady ever heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out”? If we use garbage figures and make garbage assumptions, we will get garbage out of the other end.

The hon. Gentleman just made my point for me. It is just maths. It is clear and transparent. There is a set of assumptions, a set of data and a set of conclusions. If he thinks that some of those assumptions or some of the data are garbage, it is up to him and those who agree with him to show their working. All that they have to do is do the maths better than the forecasters. We do not have to have a stupid row about whether forecasters get everything wrong all the time, with people saying that we should not believe them anyway. We just have to be transparent and show our working and then we can disagree honourably and openly, rather than making constant ad hominem attacks against people who are not here to defend themselves.

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