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Brexit cost shows folly of Leave campaign

What is striking about the various official forecasts issued yesterday is that under any version of Brexit the UK economy would be worse off compared with staying in the EU.

Leaving without a deal could cut the UK's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by up to 9.3 per cent over the next 15 years, reinforcing the view that this outcome would be absolutely disastrous in financial terms.

Even the scenario closest to Theresa May's favoured withdrawal agreement, which she is trying to push through the House of Commons, would result in GDP dropping by 3.9 per cent over the same period.

This would equate to around £100 billion a year by the 2030s, far outweighing the UK's current contribution to EU budgets.

Other options were also looked at by officials from across government departments, including the Treasury, the Brexit department, industry, environment and international trade.

Both the Norway-style membership of the European Economic Area and a Canada-style free trade deal were considered and would lead to a reduction in GDP, according to forecasts.

In all cases the UK's income would be down if migration from Europe was reduced from its current levels.

Northern Ireland along with the north east, north west and west midlands of England would be hardest hit by a no deal Brexit or a Canada-style free trade agreement.

Officials conclude the pain would be more evenly spread under Mrs May's plan.

What all this does is emphasise the sheer folly of a Leave campaign which failed to properly think through the consequences of exiting the European Union.

Rather than saving billions of pounds, as promised, the UK is set to be worse off regardless of whatever Brexit option is finally determined.

The consequences in terms of security and law enforcement of a no deal Brexit were also outlined yesterday.

As with the economic impact, the implications are grim and underline the importance of avoiding crashing out of the EU.

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