Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
29 November 2018

Will the Bank of England’s forecasts be enough to avert a no-deal Brexit?

The economic predictions don’t worry Brexiteers, but will they sway Remainers amid the uncertainty over revoking Article 50?

By Stephen Bush

The Bank of England have released their forecasts about how the various Brexit outcomes will play out: in the best case scenario, a hit to long-term growth, and in the worst, an immediate and severe plunge in GDP, increased interest rates, statues to cry, the sun to swallow the sky, etcetera.

It’s a reminder of the enduring damage that George Osborne’s sensationalist presentation of the Treasury’s predictions during the referendum have done. Just as no doctor can tell you how much you’ll weigh next year but can predict with a reasonable degree of accuracy that you will be heavier if you live off fried food and cream cakes than pulses and steamed fish, yes, no one can be sure how Brexit will play out. But we can say with a reasonable degree of accuracy that less trade and more friction – whether in the form of new tariffs or of regulatory, non-tariff barriers – will lead to a smaller British economy than we’d otherwise have.

Of course, the arena where these predictions really matter is Westminster: do they move the dial as far as Theresa May’s tricky path to passing the withdrawal agreement into law go? We know that they don’t worry committed Brexiteers in either party, but thanks to the general low regard that economic forecasts are currently held in, they don’t provide an easy excuse to facilitate a U-turn from anyone else, either.

What about the audience that might be swayed by all this: Labour MPs? They’re also the audience that Jeremy Corbyn’s amendment to the agreement is designed to win over. The difficulty for May is that a lot of wavering Labour MPs will have nodded along to Yvette Cooper’s words to the Prime Minister this morning: that May is not “the kind of person who can contemplate no deal” and would “take action to avert it”. The problem is that it is not clear what that action would be and what May’s unfettered power to take it would be.

It all hinges on how the process of revoking Article 50 works. Whatever the provisional verdict on 4 December is – a non-binding but indicative update on the European Court’s thinking before a full verdict is reached – will have huge implications for what happens next.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.