A February 2020 government document entitled, ‘The Future Relationship with the EU: The UK’s Approach to Negotiations’, outlining the UK’s negotiation mandate, said that “The Government intends to invite contributions about the economic implications of the future relationship from a wide range of stakeholders via a public consultation. That process will begin in the spring.”
We contacted the Treasury in January 2021, after the end of the transition period. A spokesperson confirmed that the economic impact assessment had not yet been done. They cited Covid-19 for the delays and said they had “no further update” as to when it would be taking place. We again chased up the Treasury for a progress report in July 2021 and received the following response:
“The Government routinely publishes analysis on the UK economy and will continue to do so as appropriate. Many bodies such as the Office for National Statistics (ONS), also regularly publish economic analysis on the impacts of our trade deal with the EU which contributes to the public debate in this area.”
In our view, the response avoided answering our question. When we asked them to clarify, they then admitted that the Economic Impact Assessment did not go ahead as a result of Covid-19.
They said: “As you will be aware, the economic impacts of a trade deal with the EU have been much debated in the last four years and there are many economic studies on this issue. That is why we originally proposed that we would invite contributions from economists, academics, businesses, and civil society groups, as no single model, number, or scenario can capture that complexity. The decision to not run a call for evidence was as a result of COVID-19.
“The Treasury has not prepared an economic Impact Assessment on the TCA and it does not prepare forecasts for the UK economy and public finances, as this is the responsibility of the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The latest forecasts from the OBR were published alongside the Budget on 3 March 2021:
“The OBR’s analysis used a range of external studies to predict the long-term impact on UK GDP.
“Thank you for taking the trouble to make us aware of these concerns.”
We entered into a tiresome correspondence with HM Treasury during which officials obfuscated, wasting our time and theirs with wordy answers that did not answer the question, or answered questions that we had not asked. At the end of it all we could obtain no evidence that the promised public consultation ever took place.