Leslie – Budget shows hard Brexit will hit our trade and make us poorer

The Budget today has confirmed that Britain’s trade with the EU will be less free after Brexit, and the Government will be unable to hit its immigration target.

In its forecasts, the Office for Budget Responsibility says that “when the UK leaves the EU…the trading regime will be less open than before.” And they say that any new free trade deals with third countries would not be enough to prevent “lower trade intensity.”

On immigration, the OBR states that changes the Government may make will not be “sufficiently tight to reduce net inward migration to the desired ‘tens of thousands’.”

Commenting, Chris Leslie MP, leading supporter of Open Britain and former Shadow Chancellor, said:

“The Government’s own forecasters predict they will miss their own targets on trade and immigration, and confirm trade will be lower, which would make us poorer. It’s not surprising that the Chancellor sought to airbrush Brexit out of his Budget.

“The Office for Budget Responsibility have poured cold water on the Government’s claim that they will strike a deal with the EU that delivers the exact same benefits as we enjoy now, by categorically stating that the trading regime will be less open than before. 

“It also showed that the Government’s controversial migration target will be missed. The Government must now explain the rationale for keeping such an unrealistic target. 

“It is not too late for the Government to change from its hard Brexit course and put the economy, trade and jobs at the heart of their negotiating strategy.” 


Notes to editors:

For all bids and media enquiries, contact James McGrory on 07949 530449 or Will Cousins on 07801 231485. When using this quote, please reference the Open Britain campaign.

  • The Government has said they will deliver “a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have.”

David Davis, 24/01/17, https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2017-01-24b.161.0&s=same+benefits+speaker%3A10162#g169.2

  • By contrast, the OBR have stated that when “the UK leaves the EU in April 2019, the trading regime will be less open than before.”

OBR, Spring Budget, 08/03/17, (p. 47), http://cdn.budgetresponsibility.org.uk/March2017EFO-231.pdf

  • The Government remains committed to a policy of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands. The Prime Minister said in October that “the policy hasn’t been watered down. We still believe we want to net migration down to sustainable levels – that means in the tens of thousands – so the policy hasn’t changed.”

Theresa May, 04/10/2016, http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/717357/theresa-may-deliver-immigration-promise

  • By contrast, the OBR state that any changes the Government may make will not be “sufficiently tight to reduce net inward migration to the desired ‘tens of thousands’.”

OBR, Spring Budget, 08/03/17, (p. 34), http://cdn.budgetresponsibility.org.uk/March2017EFO-231.pdf

  • The OBR is also incredibly frank that the prospect of new Free Trade Agreements with third party countries will not compensate for such lost trade: “at least over the forecast period, the process of leaving the EU and negotiating new trading arrangements is assumed to be associated with a lower trade intensity of UK economic activity” (p.71).