A Tory minister has been accused of trying to “gloss over” the damage done to the economy by Brexit.
John Glen, the chief secretary to the Treasury, was grilled during an interview on Radio Four’s Today programme this morning.
He was speaking as new figures showed the UK economy grew by just 0.2% between April and June.
Presenter Martha Kearney asked him: “Looking at the big picture of growth, would you accept the impact that Brexit has played in our low growth?”
Glen said: “We made a decision on Brexit years ago and I think the country wants us to address the situation that we face now.”
But Kearney hit back, telling him: “You can’t just gloss over it. This is important, something that your independent forecasters the [Office for Budget Responsibility] look at every time that they do their analysis of the economy.
“They say the impact of Brexit is the equivalent to the pandemic – 4% of output. Are we still paying the price for that?”
Refusing to answer the question, Glen replied: “The country made a decision and my job as a government minister is to do everything I can to maximise the growth of the economy.”
Kearney then said: “It’s interesting that you’re not disputing the impact of Brexit, the fact that imports and exports will be around 15% lower in the long run than if we had stayed in the EU.”
But Glen replied: “Martha, I’m not a commentator, I’m a government minister.
“My job is to take actions that build the foundations for growth in our economy whilst addressing the massive challenges we face with inflation, as many of our peers do in economies across the world.”
Earlier this year, OBR boss Richard Hughes told the BBC: “We think that it in the long run [Brexit] reduces our overall output by around 4% compared to had we remained in the EU.
“I’ve struggled to put it in any kind of sensible context. It’s a shock to the UK economy of the order of magnitude to other shocks that we’ve seen from the pandemic, from the energy crisis.”