Government figures on the risks of Brexit may have overstated the negative impact by as much as 10-fold, according to a former minister.
Conservative backbencher Peter Lilley, who spent 10 years as a minister until 1997, has called for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into what he calls “indefensible statistical manipulation” of figures.
In particular, Lilley has targeted claims that a Brexit vote would leave UK households £4,300 worse off annually.
He claims that the figures are based on a model assessing the average impact of the EU for all member states.
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As a result, Lilley argued these are warped by the erosion of trade barriers in the single market's earliest days, and the positive impact on former communist states, which have benefited most markedly, and has written to Treasury Committee chair Andrew Tyrie requesting an inquiry after this week's vote.
“The effect of these indefensible errors is to exaggerate the impact of leaving on our trade with the EU by a factor of between 3 and 10 – even if their basic model is correct,” Lilley said.
“They grossly overstated the costs and ignored the benefits. A more objective analysis, even based on the Treasury model which has been seriously criticised, would very probably show that the benefits of Brexit exceed any costs.”