In a fractious interview, the chancellor was confronted with his watchdog’s analysis that leaving the EU will swipe £100bn from output and £40bn from revenues by the decade’s end.
But Mr Hunt, asked about that Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) analysis of a 4 per cent GDP slump, replied: “I don’t accept the 4 per cent.”
When it was pointed out he accepts other OBR forecasts, he said: “I don’t have to accept all of them”, adding: “I accept all the ones I agree with.”
The chancellor acknowledged the “transition” to new trading relationships was causing “difficulties for some businesses” but argued “the opportunities for Brexit” could overcome them.
“I don’t accept that the long-term impact of that decision [leaving the EU] will be to make us poorer,” he told Sky News.
Mr Hunt insisted “Brexit is not the issue” as Britain enters what is forecast to be recession of up to two years, that will take living standards back to 2013 levels.
Negotiating closer trade ties with Brussels – such as the “Swiss-style deal“ Rishi Sunak rejected this week – would prevent the UK “becoming the world’s next Silicon Valley, which is my long-term plan”, he said.
The leading Leave campaigner instead pointed to reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and gene-editing, as well as freedom to make “our air purer, our soil more resilient”.
Mr Hunt has claimed has claimed the “vast majority” of the punishing cross-Channel trade barriers can be removed in the years to come, but without explaining how.
more to follow