Jacob Rees-Mogg has slammed the Treasury plot to hinder Brexit
The current favourite to be the next Tory leader joined other senior MPs in raising concerns after tapes emerged of Charles Grant, the director of the pro-Remain thinktank, the Centre for European Reform, recounting private conversations about Brexit with Treasury officials.
It came as International Trade Secretary Liam Fox denied claims there are plans to keep Britain in the customs union.
Mr Grant told guests at a dinner held by the pro-EU Prospect magazine that it was “not certain” Britain would completely end Brussels rule by staying in its customs union.
He said: “The Treasury is determined to stay in the customs union.
“In private Treasury officials say that they know we are going to stay in during the transition and they hope that when we are in the transition people will understand that the costs of leaving are rather high and there is unpublished papers sitting in the Treasury showing that the economic costs of leaving the single market and customs union are much greater than the benefits of free trade agreements with every other country in the world.”
Rees-Mogg criticised unpublished Treasury forecasts of the post-Brexit economy
Mr Grant said that the Treasury is determined to keep us in the customs union which is either the Chancellor opposing Government policy or more seriously the civil service doing so. “The same applies to unpublished papers he refers to, who authorised t
The comments emerged in a week where a “flawed, incomplete” economic impact analysis was leaked to a pro-EU website from Whitehall suggesting that the least damaging Brexit was to stay under EU rule in the single market and customs union.
Mr Grant’s comments and the leak have fuelled speculation that the Treasury is deliberately trying to undermine Brexit following its failed Project Fear campaign during the referendum.
Mr Rees-Mogg said that the recording “vindicated” concerns he had controversially raised in parliament earlier this week.
Mr Rees-Mogg added: “He (Mr Grant) said that the Treasury is determined to keep us in the customs union which is either the Chancellor opposing Government policy or more seriously the civil service doing so.
“The same applies to unpublished papers he refers to, who authorised them and from whom were they being kept secret?”
Veteran backbencher John Redwood also condemned the forecasts as ‘very wrong’
Asked if he thought there should be an investigation into officials he said: “Yes”.
This followed calls by the leading Brexit group Leave Means Leave for a full inquiry.
Another senior pro-Brexit Tory MP Peter Bone, the founder of Grassroots Out, said that the comments were “exceptionally serious”.
He said: “We have an important principle in our democracy that ministers make policy and civil servants implement it they don’t work against it or make it themselves.”
He added: “I think the Chancellor should be investigating whether civil servants are working against the government’s policy”.
Former cabinet minister John Redwood on Friday to Twitter to hit out at civil servants and their “wrong” forecasts.
He said: “The Treasury published very clear and very wrong short term forecasts for the referendum debate and very clear and equally wrong long term forecasts before the debate.
“These latest leaks look like those wrong forecasts.”
He went on: “These people who write inaccurate forecasts never apologise for being wrong in the past and are probably the same people, or use the same warped analysis as those who told us the ERM would be good for us, and who told us we would suffer badly if we did not join the Euro.”
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He added: “Before making any more Project Fear forecasts they should try explaining why the UK growth rate fell after we joined the EU, why we have had a persistent deficit with them, and why even the EU study shows there was practically no benefit from joining the single market.”
Meanwhile, Dr Fox ruled out British membership of any customs union with the EU after Brexit.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV during the Prime Minister’s trade trip to China denied reports that the Government is considering forming a new customs union with the bloc to allow tariff free trade in goods after the UK leaves the bloc.
He said: “It is very difficult to see how being in a customs union is compatible with having an independent trade policy because we would therefore be dependent on what the EU negotiated in terms of its trading policies and we’d be following behind that.
“We have to be outside of that to take advantage of those growing markets One of the reasons we are leaving the European Union is to take control and that’s not possible with a common external tariff.”