As a leaked government analysis reveals post-EU doom, support for Brexit is flailing

All potential scenarios point to a longterm reduction in growth with a concomitant effect on tax revenues.


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Scoop! BuzzFeed's Alberto Nardelli has got hold of Dexeu's leaked impact analysis of what Brexit will do to the British economy, and in all three scenarios – dropping into the EEA, a Canada-style free trade agreement and no deal at all – the result is a longterm reduction in growth with a concomitant effect on tax revenues.

Brexiteers will comfort themselves with the hope that these projections might go the same way as the immediate predictions of an economic cliff edge, which didn't play out. It's certainly possible that could be the case. However, modeling the impact of putting up more barriers to trade is a lot easier than forecasting the immediate vote to leave the European Union: no-one had ever voted to leave the EU, before but we have examples of how trade between nations work from throughout human history. It may be of course that some as-yet-uninvented technology, or event, to political upheaval tips the balance and fundamentally alters how we trade with one another, so that the United Kingdom does become a nation that trades as much with distant countries as with its immediate neighbours. No-one can say for sure that won't happen.

That line, coupled with the government's insistence that the model does not include their preferred bespoke arrangement, will be enough to get pro-Brexit politicians and pundits through a television interview or to the end of an article. And as I re-iterate in my column this week, it is unlikely to tip the balance within Labour's ruling quartet of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Jon Trickett towards a pro-Remain position either.

But outside of Westminster, the Brexiteer position is not so secure. The other story in the British Electoral Survey release was that the shift towards a Remain vote detected in the polls is not statistical noise but looks to be real, driven by a combination of Leavers having second thoughts and under 18-year-olds entering the voting population for the first time.

At the moment, a vote before we've left would have to overcome two major obstacles: a dislike of being made to vote twice and a sense that elections should have consequence. (Plus the composition of parliament as it stands and the internal dynamics of both party leaderships.) But let's turn to what is still the most likely outcome of the next election, which is another hung parliament in which Remainers of various hues hold the balance of power. Brexiteers have a good story to tell themselves in the present. It is less clear what they think their message to younger voters who didn't back a Leave vote last time or nervous swing voters if at some point in the next parliament a referendum and the chance that sooner or later, the next government decides that a referendum on re-entry is a price worth paying to stay in office and get its legislation passed.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.