The former Brexit Secretary claimed a campaign of “lies and scare tactics” is being prepared by Downing Street to push MPs into supporting Theresa May’s exit deal. He called on Conservatives to “stand firm in the face of the propaganda onslaught” that is being unleashed as part of “project fear 2.0″. All Brexit options are worse than staying in the bloc but leaving without a deal could deliver a 9.3% hit to the economy over the next 15 years, according to official analysis released yesterday.
Mr Davis, however, pointed to Treasury forecasts in May 2016 that warned the impact of a leave vote would shrink the economy by 2.1% in the first 18 months when it actually grew by 2.8%.
“The Treasury’s forecasts in the past have almost never been right and have, more often, been dramatically wrong,” he said.
Mr Davis said there had been a raft of other forecasts around unemployment, falling house prices and tax rises made during the 2016 campaign.
“Needless to say, none of this spine-chilling nonsense came to pass,” he told an Economists for Free Trade event in London.
Claims that planes could be grounded and food rationed are part of the “hysteria” being whipped up to push MPs into backing the PM’s deal, he said.
Whitehall also consistently overestimates the benefits of the single market despite its rules being “rigged” in favour of big corporations while stifling innovation, Mr Davis insisted.
The former Cabinet minister said the government was on course for a major defeat when its plans for a “fake Brexit” go before the Commons.
But he admitted that Parliamentary rebellions have a habit of dying away at the last minute.
“Downing Street, the whips, the Treasury, and the rest of the establishment are yet to do their best or their worst,” he said.
“We are on track for a condensed version of the referendum campaign of 2016, along with all the lies, half truths, exaggerations, spin and scare tactics put out by the government machine.”
He added: “Apocalyptic Treasury forecasts of the grim effects of leaving the EU’s orbit are only part of Whitehall’s armoury of intimidation.”
Mrs May, who was in Scotland yesterday explaining her exit plans, is trying to “aim over the heads of recalcitrant Tory MPs” to win support from voters with a publicity blitz, Mr Davis claimed.
The former Cabinet minister said there would be “bumps and turns” if the UK left without a deal but it would also free the country from the “choking tentacles” of the EU.
UK exports to non-EU countries have grown four times faster than exports to the EU, Mr Davis said.
He added: “The future of the UK economy does not lie with the EU but with the wider world.”
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