Cutting the number of migrants from the European Union to the UK after Brexit will cost the country more than any financial benefit of a much-vaunted trade deal with the US, a leaked government analysis reportedly warns.
According to the number-crunching, published on Wednesday night by BuzzFeed News, a US trade deal would lead to economic growth of 0.2% over 15 years.
But a new immigration policy to replace the free movement within the EU that the UK currently abides by - even one less stringent than those favoured by the government - would wipe out this benefit, the report says.
The analysis also states that combined with new barriers to trade - including loss of single market access and customs and border checks - UK borrowing could be tens of billions of pounds higher in 15 years time.
Controlling immigration was at the heart of the Vote Leave campaign’s ‘take back control’ message, while a fresh trade deal with America is viewed by Brexiteers as a huge prize after being unbridled from the EU.
Labour MP David Lammy reacted with fury to the latest revelation.
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: “The view that restricting immigration is a positive thing, something this Conservative government have only encouraged, has been starkly contradicted by their own analysis.
“This analysis shows a fall in EU migration is far from cost free. The resulting loss of skills and government revenue means any trade deal with the US won’t even begin to bring in the cash lost by a clamp down on migration post-Brexit.
“As the government’s own evidence against their blinkered hard Brexit agenda begins to mount, the British people must be given their say on the final deal with the option to exit from Brexit.”
Westminster was left reeling by the leaked Whitehall assessment after it forecast that quitting the EU would cost the UK up to 8% in lost growth.
Theresa May has pledged to publish the top-secret analysis of the economic impact of Brexit, but only when Parliament votes on the final deal agreed with Brussels later this year.
The confidential document’s dramatic conclusion was that all versions of Brexit – from a ‘no deal’ scenario to a Norway-style model - would result in Britain losing out.
Ministers have said MPs will be able to see the secret assessments in private.