Jeremy Hunt has rejected the forecasts of his own economic watchdog, stating that he does not accept that Brexit will “make us poorer”.
In a tricky interview, the Chancellor was confronted by his watchdog’s analysis that leaving the EU will wipe out £100bn of output and £40bn of revenue by the end of the decade.
But Mr Hunt, when asked about that Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) analysis of a 4 percent drop in GDP, replied: “I don’t accept the 4 percent.”
When pointed out that he accepts other OBR forecasts, he said, “I don’t have to accept all of them,” adding, “I accept any forecasts I agree with.”
The chancellor acknowledged that the “transition” to new trading relationships “caused difficulties for some companies” but argued that “the opportunity for Brexit” could overcome them.
“I do not accept the long-term consequences of that decision [leaving the EU] will be to make us poorer,” he said sky news.
Mr Hunt insisted “Brexit is not the problem” as Britain enters a recession of up to two years, which will bring living standards back to 2013 levels.
Negotiating closer trade ties with Brussels — such as the “Swiss deal” that Rishi Sunak rejected this week — would prevent the UK from becoming “the world’s next Silicon Valley, which is my long-term plan,” he said.
The comments come after Michael Gove was criticized for not citing any change to Brexit that “made things easier” as criticism of the trade deal’s economic damage grows.
The leading Leave campaigner instead pointed to common agricultural policy reform and gene editing, as well as freedom to “make our air purer, our soil more resilient”.
Mr Hunt has claimed the “vast majority” of punitive cross-Channel trade barriers could be removed in the coming years, but without explaining how.
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