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EU referendum: Think tanks unite to warn Brexit would damage UK

By Andrew Woodcock

A Leave vote in tomorrow's referendum would "almost certainly make us financially worse off" and could cut the UK's GDP by up to 8% - equivalent to £5,760 for every household in the country - a group of respected economic think tanks has warned.

In a joint statement, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, and the Centre for Economic Performance said "almost all those who have looked seriously" at the consequences of Brexit agreed it would be highly likely to harm the UK's living standards.

Withdrawing from the EU was likely to result in prolonged uncertainty, reduced access to the single market and lower overseas investment, which would together lead to lower wages, more expensive goods in the shops, more unemployment and a combination of higher borrowing, reduced public spending or rising state borrowing, they said.

"In our lifetimes we have never seen such a degree of unanimity among economists on a major policy issue," they added.

"The precise effect, in terms of a numerical percentage, is of course uncertain. But that we would be financially worse off outside the EU than in it is almost certainly true."

The economy was likely to be between 1% and 3% smaller by 2020 if Britain votes to Leave than if Remain wins," the think tanks said. And by 2030, GDP would be between 2% and 8% lower - between £1,440 and £5,760 for every UK household.

The warning came as billionaire financier George Soros said it was "wishful thinking" for voters to believe that a Brexit would not hit them in the pocket, while former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said a Remain vote was "the only rational economic choice".

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