Theresa May left us 'none the wiser' about what Brexit actually means, OBR says

The Government's fiscal watchdog said there was 'considerable uncertainty'

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 23 November 2016 19:08
Comments
British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street
British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street

The Government has given so little detail about what it wants Brexit to look like that its own fiscal watchdog was unable to do its job properly, the organisation has said.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said a submission by the Government about what it wanted the post-2019 UK to look like “leaves us little the wiser” about what Government policy actually is.

OBR economists were pointed to two vague public statements by Theresa May, where she said she wanted “the best deal possible”.

“We asked the Government for ‘a formal statement of Government policy as regards its desired trade regime and system of migration control, as a basis for our projections’,” the OBR’s economic and fiscal outlook says.

“The Government directed us to two public statements by the Prime Minister that it stated were relevant to our request.

“Perhaps understandably, this leaves us little the wiser as regards the choices and trade-offs that the Government might make during the negotiations – which will depend in part of course on the approach taken by those with whom it is negotiating.

“Given this – and the considerable uncertainty surrounding the economic and fiscal implications of different outcomes – we have not attempted to predict the end-point of the negotiations.”

The OBR said it had instead based forecasts beyond the predicted date of Brexit on the assumptions that the UK leaves the EU in April 2019, that Brexit will be fiscally neutral, and that there would be no major tax changes due to the UK no longer being locked into EU rules.

Ms May and her government have pointly refused to give much detail about Brexit, arguing that to state even their objectives or opening hand will damage negotiation prospects.

The PM has however said that she will trigger Article 50 in the first quarter of 2017, starting negotiations with the European Union.

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