EXCL Ministers accused of hiding hundreds of millions of pounds in Brexit costs

Posted On: 
9th March 2019

Ministers have been accused of hiding hundreds of millions of pounds in costs related to Brexit that are set to hit taxpayers and businesses.

Labour MP Ian Murray said: “It’s time ministers came clean and told Parliament and the British public the true cost of Brexit.”
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The Government has failed to provide details of expected losses to the public finances or firms for three quarters of the Brexit legislation it has produced impact assessments for.

Pro-EU campaigners said the few policies which have been totted up “are already costing the public and businesses huge sums of money” and asked: “What do they have to hide?”

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But the Government insisted proposed measures that have not been costed would have “minimal economic impact” and so did not need a full assessment.

Ministers have so far provided expected impact costs for five items of legislation that have been impact-assessed, including measures to protect financial services and nuclear regulations.

Costs for those measures over the expected Brexit transition period, then ongoing maintenance each year, amount to more than £100m.

But the five measures amount to just a quarter of the Brexit legislation that has been impact-assessed, with key items such as the Immigration Bill and regulations for chemicals left uncosted.

An impact assessment for the Trade Bill - which is meant to ensure seamless trade around the world after Brexit - says the cost of the measures are “unknown, likely small”.

Labour MP and pro-EU campaigner Ian Murray told PoliticsHome: “Brexit is the most important issue of the day, and it is simply unacceptable for the Government to fail to provide this basic information in three quarters of all cases...

“The few details that have been released show that even a small number of Brexit policies are already costing the public and businesses huge sums of money, and the hidden cost can be assumed to be in the hundreds of millions.

“It’s time ministers came clean and told Parliament and the British public the true cost of Brexit.”

But a spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: "The Government follows official Better Regulation and HMT [Treasury] guidance when publishing impact assessments.

“In line with this guidance, any measure with minimal economic impact does not require a cost-benefit analysis to be published.”