Greens and Lib Dems have accused the PM of misleading the Commons, after the PM claimed Treasury analysis 'does not show' the UK will be worse off.
Opposition parties have accused the PM of ‘misleading Parliament’ after Theresa May appeared to contradict her own Chancellor at PMQs.
New Treasury analysis has revealed that the UK economy will be worse off under the PM’s Brexit deal compared to staying in the EU – a fact conceded by the Chancellor himself.
Asked if the UK would be poorer under Mrs May’s deal, Chancellor Phillip Hammond told Radio 4’s Today programme: “The economy will be slightly smaller in the prime minister’s preferred version of the future partnership.”
Yet in PMQs, the Prime Minister said:
“The analysis shows…no….no…no…the analysis does not show that we will be poorer than the status quo today….no…no it doesn’t.”
The Treasury’s own analysis – confirmed by Hammond – shows May’s deal could leave the UK economy up to 3.9% smaller after 15 years, compared to staying in the EU.
The story – first published on Left Foot Forward, has now been leapt on by opposition parties.
Caroline Lucas quickly raised a point of order with the Speaker:
“What action could be taken if it were to be found that the PM inadvertently misled the House during PMQs when she said: ‘The [Treasury] analysis does not show that we will be poorer in the future than we are today’?…
“The ministerial code shows if the PM misled the house she should come back to the House and make a statement.”
John Bercow suggested the PM should return to the Commons over potentially misleading Parliament:
“In the event that anybody has inadvertently misled the House, it is incumbent on that member [including the PM] to take the opportunity to correct the record”
Yet Speaker Bercow highlighted the bizarre situation that the PM is her own judge as to whether she broke the Ministerial Code in misleading the House: “The PM herself is the arbiter of the ministerial code.”
Granted a follow-up question, Caroline Lucas said she was ‘surprised’ that the PM could not be called back to the House – but the Speaker advised her to write to the PM.
Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson and former Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Tom Brake MP said:
“The public demand the full facts and figures on the cost of Brexit. Perhaps that’s why the Chancellor has broken rank and confirmed Brexit will make people poorer. However, the PM has already desperately refuted the Chancellor’s assertion in the House of Commons.
“So what is it? Either Theresa May is calling the Chancellor a liar, or she has misled the House of Commons.
“All the evidence would suggest the latter. That could leave the Prime Minister in contempt of Parliament. She must come before MPs to apologise. The public have had enough of the murky games around this Tory Brexit mess.”
The dispute centres on whether – in referring to the ‘status quo’ – the PM was referring to the current size of Britain’s economy, or to growth rates under the different scenarios. Yet another battle in the Brexit spin war…
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.