The Treasury has fired its big bazooka.  It is publishing a substantial report and economic analysis concluding that Brexit would reduce GDP by 6% by 2030 (on where it would have been), and so cost every British household £4,300 a year.  Bear in mind that the mastermind behind the Treasury’s elegant façade is none other than arch-Remainian George Osborne, so never mind 200 pages of analysis – what this boils down to is Osborne’s opinion.  Both the Times and the Telegraph lead on the story.

The technique is reminiscent of that used by Lord Stern in his deeply misleading “Stern Report” on Global Warming. And it’s very simple:

1              You look at all the conceivable downsides

2              You ignore any possible up-sides

3              You wilfully exaggerate the possible impact of the downsides

4              You add up all the negatives, and Bingo! You prove your point.  Or as the Romans used to say, Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Has the Treasury looked at the benefits of reducing excessive regulation?  Of implementing rational energy policies for lower prices? Of eliminating the EU’s Common External Tariff?  Of setting up tailor-made trade deals between the UK and fast-growing economies around the world?  I suspect not.

For balance, let’s remind ourselves of Professor Patrick Minford’s analysis in his book “Should Britain Leave the EU?”, published by the highly-respected Institute of Economic Affairs, which estimates a Brexit benefit of £9,200 per household.   And Professor Minford’s offering comes with the added bonus of freedom, self-determination and democracy.

Photo by Robert Scarth

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