Brexit deal deprives Britain of economic benefits, insists David Davis
By Tom Pilgrim, Press Association
David Davis has rejected the Government's claims that Brexit will have a negative impact on the British economy.
The former Brexit secretary argued Treasury forecasts are often proved "wrong" and are based on "flawed assumptions".
He urged parliamentary colleagues to reject the Prime Minister's "bogus" withdrawal deal with the EU.
He said any vote in support of the agreement would "repudiate" the wishes of the British public and cause "incalculable" damage to the country's democracy.
Mr Davis argued the deal would deprive Britain of the "chief economic benefits" of Brexit by preventing it striking free trade deals around the world.
Speaking at an event held by the Economists for Free Trade in London on Wednesday, Mr Davis said the UK-EU agreement would keep Britain in a customs union, make it subject to EU single market rules, and "annexes" Northern Ireland.
"Worst of all it make us prisoners of a Hotel California customs union, we can check out any time we like, but we can never leave," he added.
Mr Davis's comments came after Chancellor Philip Hammond warned Brexit would leave the country worse off.
But Mr Davis said economic warnings are part of a "propaganda onslaught" ahead of MPs voting on the deal in Parliament, saying they need to "ready for project fear 2.0".
He said: "Treasury forecasts in the past have almost never been right and have more often been dramatically wrong."
He said predictions the UK economy would contract by 2.1% in the 18 months after the Leave vote were unfounded, with it actually growing by 2.8%.
Mr Davis added that other negative forecasts around unemployment and family incomes were also unfounded.
"None of this spine-chilling nonsense came to pass," he said.
The ex-minister claimed the forecasts were based on "flawed assumptions".
He suggested a Brexit scenario in which the UK reverts to a free trade deal with the EU based on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules could benefit the economy.
"It would involve all the choking tentacles of the EU falling away," he said.
UK exports to non-EU countries had grown four times faster than exports to the EU, Mr Davis claimed.
He added: "The future of the UK economy does not lie with the EU but with the wider world."
Hysteria around the consequences of a no-deal Brexit outcome are also unfounded, he said.
Mr Davis cited the example of Operation Stack in 2015, when industrial action saw lorries queuing on the M20 in Kent, saying it did not cause a downturn in the economy.
He predicted MPs will reject Theresa May's deal and the government should press for a Canada-plus free trade agreement backed by technical solutions at the Irish border.
If this is not achieved, the country should prepare for a transition to WTO rules.
"The task facing the Conservative Party... is to deliver the will of the people as set out in June 2016," he said.
"That means Brexit, and it means a clean Brexit that ensures a decisive break from the influence of a foreign power."
He said the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration are "a bogus prospectus", and would keep Britain as "nothing more than a satellite state ruled from afar".