A Conservative minister has said there is a “serious question” over whether Britiain should quit the European Union after a leaked government analysis indicated the economy would be hit.
Justice minister Phillip Lee said it was “time for evidence, not dogma, to show the way” over Brexit, and questioned whether a government should take a country down a path that was demonstrably “damaging”.
On Twitter tonight, Lee, who backed staying in the EU, said in stack contrast to many of Theresa May’s frontbenchers, said: “We can’t just dismiss this and move on.”
According to documents leaked to BuzzFeed News, the government’s latest analysis of the impact of Brexit says the UK would be worse off outside the European Union under every scenario modelled.
The assessment showed even if the UK is able to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement – as Theresa May hopes – it estimated growth would be down 5% over the next 15 years.
While pro-EU politicians have seized on the report as evidence the process should be halted, Brexit minister Steve Baker said the forecasts produced by the government were “always wrong” and the leak was an “attempt to undermine our exit from the EU”.
Lee said: “The next phase of Brexit has to be all about the evidence. We can’t just dismiss this and move on. If there is evidence to the contrary, we need to see and consider that too.
“But if these figures turn out to be anywhere near right, there would be a serious question over whether a government could legitimately lead a country along a path that the evidence and rational consideration indicate would be damaging. This shows the PM’s challenge.
“The PM has been dealt some tough cards and I support her mission to make the best of them. It’s time for evidence, not dogma, to show the way. We must act for our country’s best interests, not ideology & populism, or history will judge us harshly. Our country deserves no less.”
Theresa May held a Cabinet meeting this morning following the leak as she prepared for a high profile trade mission to China.
Downing Street spokesman said: “At the beginning of cabinet the prime minister noted media coverage of a report purporting to show the economic impact of Britain leaving the EU.
“The prime minsiter said this was initial work not approved by ministers which only considers off-the-shelf scenarios. No analysis was made of the bespoke arrangement we seek as a matter of government policy as set out in the Florence speech.”