By Cantab12 [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Today, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a prominent Tory Eurosceptic, reignited a row regarding economic forecasts on the effects of Brexit, accusing the Treasury of “fiddling the figures” in the agency’s analysis.
Rees-Mogg leads the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Conservative MPs. He declined to apologise for accusing civil servants of attempting to undermine the process of Brexit.
He said that the Treasury, before and since the EU referendum last June 2016, had determined it “politically advantageous” to shift their forecasts.
Talking to the BBC, Rees-Mogg, stated: “I do think they’re fiddling the figures.”
A spokesperson for the Treasury stated: “Both Treasury ministers and officials are working hard to deliver the best Brexit deal for Britain. The Prime Minister and the chancellor have repeatedly said that we will be leaving both the single market and the customs union. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false.”
The row arises in the aftermath of leaked EU forecasts of the Department for Exiting which discovered that leaving the customs union of the European Union would be significantly worse for the economy of the United Kingdom than staying in it, in line with the vast majority of the predictions made by economists.
The official policy of the government is to leave the customs union, which would allow the United Kingdom to enter trade deals with other nations. However, it would also entail the imposition of border checks on goods that are flowing between the United Kingdom and the European Union, a huge change from the present frictionless system.
The fight within the Conservative party has drawn in government figures, with Steve Baker, the junior Brexit minister, apologising after his failure to correct a question from Rees-Mogg in Parliament, in which the backbencher said that he believed that the Treasury was attempting to influence the debate.
Rees-Mogg alleged government economists of developing their forecasting model deliberately in order to prove that remaining in the customs union or the Single Market would be better for the economy of the United Kingdom than leaving.
Today, Rees-Mogg declined to back down from his allegations, for which he has not presented evidence, saying that the situation was currently “much more serious than before.” The Treasury appears “to be running policy that is not government policy” and then instructing journalists, said Rees-Mogg.
He said: “If you look at the forecasts the Treasury made before the referendum, they were a humiliation. They were clearly politically influenced.”