My #Remainer’s Diary Day 499: great excitement as Buzzfeed News got hold of a copy of an impact assessment report dated January 2018, entitled “EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing”, prepared by Government civil servants for DExEU. It advised that under all scenarios it examined – a free trade agreement, EEA membership or no deal – the UK’s economic growth would be lower over the next 15 years than current expectations. With no deal, growth would be 8% lower; with a free trade agreement, 5% lower and with EEA membership 2% lower than if the UK stays in the EU.
The calculations did not take into account any short-term hits to the economy from Brexit, such as the cost of adjusting to new customs arrangements.
Buzzfeed News reported that when asked why Theresa May was not making the analysis public, “a DExEU source” replied: “Because it’s embarrassing.”
Eloise Todd, CEO of Best for Britain, commented that it was more than that. “It is a colossal act of economic self harm, written down clearly, in black and white.”
Meanwhile the European Council (leaders of the EU27) adopted supplemental negotiating directives giving details of the EU27 position regarding a transition period. The ministers envisaged full EU acquis to be applied in the UK and no participation in the EU institutions and decision-making. The proposed end date for the transition period is 31st December 2020.
The full details are given on the Council’s website.
Robert Peston reported that Angela Merkel told journalists in Davos that Theresa May had repeatedly asked her to “make me an offer”.
Ms Merkel said that when she replied “but you’re leaving – we don’t have to make you an offer. Come on what do you want?”, Ms May repeated, “Make me an offer.” Thus the two were trapped in a recurring loop of ‘what do you want?’ and ‘make me an offer’, Mr Peston wrote.
How they laughed. It’s not funny, though.
Dr Peter Ammon, the outgoing German ambassador to the UK, told the Guardian that the UK’s decision to leave the EU was “a tragedy” and a depressing moment.
He warned: “If you have illusions about what you can negotiate, then it is very difficult. You end up in a divorce in which you say: ‘It was always your fault,’ and you… start a blame game.”
He attributed some Brexit supporters’ motivations to wanting to preserve a sense of identity based on Britain standing alone in the Second World War. “Well, it is a nice story, but does not solve any problem of today…
“When I tell people in Germany I am confronted by this narrative occasionally in public debates they say: ‘This cannot be true. You are joking. This cannot be true. That is absurd.”
He said that net immigration to the UK had slowed to zero because growth in the rest of the EU had picked up. He did not think the grant of an emergency brake on immigration to David Cameron would have made a difference because “There was so much propaganda in the media – I am sorry, I cannot call it anything else.”
He said Brexit was part of a wider populist revolt. “Populism provides easy and understandable answers to very complex problems. If you say… ‘Let us build a wall to stop these immigrants,’ people say: ‘OK, that will probably help.’ I know it is not a good answer to problems – Germany has not had a good experience with building walls.”