Mel Stride – 2018 Speech on Leaving the European Union

Below is the text of the speech made by Mel Stride, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in the House of Commons on 28 November 2018.

Today the Government published the analysis of the economic and fiscal effects of leaving the European Union, honouring the commitment we made to the House. It is important to recognise that the analysis is not an economic forecast for the UK economy; it only considers potential economic impacts specific to EU exit, and it does not prejudge all future policy or wider economic developments. The analysis sets out how different scenarios affect GDP and the sectors and regions of the economy against today’s arrangements with the European Union. Four different scenarios have been considered: a scenario based upon the July White Paper; a no-deal scenario; an average free trade area scenario; and a European economic area-type scenario. Given the spectrum of different outcomes, and ahead of the detailed negotiations on the legal text of the deal, the analysis builds in sensitivity with effectively the White Paper at one end and a hypothetical FTA at the other.

The analysis shows that the outcomes for the proposed future UK-EU relationship would deliver significantly higher economic output, about seven percentage points higher, than the no-deal scenario. The analysis shows that a no-deal scenario would result in lower economic activity in all sector groups of the economy compared to the White Paper scenario. The analysis also shows that in the no-deal scenario all nations and regions of the United Kingdom would have lower economic activity in the long run compared to the White Paper scenario, with Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland all being subject to a significant economic impact.

What the Government have published today shows that the deal on the table is the best deal. It honours the referendum and realises the opportunities of Brexit. [Interruption.] It is a deal that takes back control of our borders, our laws and our money. [Interruption.] Let me be very clear to the House and to those who say that the economic benefits of staying in the EU mean that we should overturn the result of the referendum: to do so would open up the country to even further division and turbulence, and undermine the trust placed by the British people in our democracy. What this House and our country face today is the opportunity presented by the deal: a deal that honours the result of the referendum and safeguards our economic future; or the alternative, the risk of no deal or indeed of no Brexit at all. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Order. Somebody said something about “dishonest”. No Member should accuse another Member of being dishonest in this Chamber. I am not quite sure who I heard, but that must not be repeated. This is a disagreement between right hon. and hon. Members, and colleagues must remember that.

John McDonnell The Chancellor promised us that the House would have a detailed economic analysis of the options ahead of the meaningful vote on Brexit. ​The least we could expect is that, instead of touring the broadcast studios, the Chancellor would be here himself to present an oral statement on the information.

Let us be clear. We are now in the ludicrous position of seeing an analysis produced today on the economic implications of Brexit, which is in fact largely an assessment of the Chequers proposals abandoned months ago. What the analysis produced by the Treasury today shows us is that if a no-deal scenario with no net EEA migration comes to pass—something the Government have recklessly, if incredibly, been threatening—we could see GDP almost 11% lower compared to today’s arrangements. Under the hard Brexit some Government Back Benchers have been promoting, it would be 7% smaller. Only a Chancellor who talks about “little extras” for schools would talk about this kind of effect as being “a little smaller”.

Can the Minister confirm that no deal is not an option the Government will allow to happen? Does the Minister agree that the one thing this document shows is that the deal on the table is even worse than the abandoned Chequers deal? Have the Government done any analysis whatsoever of the actual proposed backstop arrangements and will they be published in advance of the vote in a few days’ time? What fiscal assumptions is the Department making about extending the transition period, given that there may be no limit to what the European Union could ask for in return for such an extension? To be frank, if the Minister’s Government are not prepared to put jobs and the economy first in their Brexit negotiations, is it not time that they stepped aside and allowed Labour to negotiate that deal?

Mel Stride Let me deal first with the point the right hon. Gentleman made about the Chancellor. The Chancellor is of course accountable to this House. He will be appearing before the Treasury Committee on Wednesday to give full account of the arrangements we are discussing today. Indeed, the Prime Minister herself will be appearing before the Liaison Committee.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the Chequers deal and the fact that analysis is being based around that in this paperwork. That is entirely appropriate given that, as he will know, the political declaration suggests a spectrum of possible outcomes for the arrangements. That is why we not only analyse the Chequers proposal, but have a sensitivity analysis around that proposal as well.

The right hon. Gentleman raises the issue of a no-deal scenario. It is the Labour party that is pushing us more in the direction of a potential no-deal scenario by—I have to say it—deciding for its own political reasons to object to the deal we have put forward. To be clear, that deal is good for safeguarding the economic future of our country and it delivers on the 2016 referendum, giving us control of our borders, our money, our laws and ensuring we protect the integrity of the United Kingdom, while allowing us to go out and make future trade deals. This Government are totally committed to achieving that.