LONDON — Former Tory leadership candidate Michael Gove says predictions made relating to how Brexit will impact the economy are being made by experts who have a track record of getting things wrong.
The Surrey Heath MP and former cabinet minister was interviewed for the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday in the same week that Chancellor Philip Hammond announced some bleak economic projections for Brexit Britain.
In his Autumn Statement, Hammond relayed warnings from the Office for Budget Responsibility (ORB) that growth is set to slow during this parliament as a result of Brexit uncertainty, costing Britain an additional £58.7 billion.
However, Gove has joined a long list of Brexiteers who have called the accuracy of the OBR’s work into question, suggesting economic experts have a clear record of making false predictions in recent years.
“For me, it felt like Deja Vu all over again,” Gove told Marr. “I remember during the referendum campaign we had a litany of warnings… The reality is that actually over the course of the last few weeks we’ve had a good news.”
Earlier this week, Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith said the OBR’s prediction was “another utter doom and gloom scenario” published by an organisation “that simply hasn’t got anything right.” Philip Davis MP accused the body of basing its projections on political preference rather than fact.
Gove, who since failing in his bid to succeed David Cameron has written numerous columns for The Times, told Marr that the OBR’s work shouldn’t be taken too seriously as it was produced by experts whose profession is in crisis.
“The chancellor and the prime minister are right to respect the independence of the OBR but also to take it with a pinch of salt,” he said. “Because there’s a challenge here, not so much for the government, as for many of those who were so heavily invested in what became known as project fear.
“Economists overall have to recognise that their profession is in crisis. The economics profession failed to predict the 2008 financial crash. In the past economics argued that we should enter the single currency and were proven wrong and as a profession they were proven wrong by the impact of Britain voting to leave the European Union.
Asked whether he would apologise to economic experts at the OBR if his doubts prove to be false, Gove said: “I’ve always been ready to apologise for mistakes I’ve made after a period of reflection but I’m radically sceptical about the claims that have been made.”
In the same interview, Gove said Britain should leave both the European Single Market and customs union as part of the Brexit process. He also said that he is “open” to the idea of a transitional deal, which its advocates say would provide stability in the period between Article 50 expiring and Britain finalising a trade deal with the 28-nation bloc.
Asked whether Theresa May should consider employing Nigel Farage as a go-between to help relations with Donald Trump’s USA, Gove said the UK’s current ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch is a “fantastic man” who should be left to do his job.
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