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Brexit 'would push up prices, costing families £580 a year'

Published 21/06/2016

The price of a weekly shop could rise if Britain leaves the EU, former retail chiefs warned
The price of a weekly shop could rise if Britain leaves the EU, former retail chiefs warned

The cost of essential goods and services would soar by £580 a year for families if Britain quits the EU, a new survey has warned.

Research by the Usdaw union claims Brexit would hit families hard, as former bosses of retail giants such as Sainsbury's and Tesco said leaving the EU would cause prices to rise.

In an open letter, former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, ex-Marks and Spencer chief Marc Bolland and former Sainsbury's head Justin King claim that withdrawal would be "catastrophic for millions of ordinary families".

The warning came as John Hannett, general secretary of Usdaw, which represents 425,000 workers in the retail industry, said: "Brexit will harm the UK economy, leading to fewer jobs, increased pressure on workers' rights and greater insecurity for Usdaw members."

The Britain Stronger In Europe campaign also insisted an EU exit could see a 2.7% spike in inflation which would mean the cost of a rail season ticket from Birmingham to London increasing by £270, and one from Liverpool to Manchester going up by £80.

Labour former chancellor Lord Darling said: "Every credible economic expert is clear - leaving the EU, our biggest market, would hit trade, boost inflation and increase the price of imports. This would be devastating for working people who cannot afford a rise in the cost of living.

"The economic consequences of leaving Europe could well be worse than the damage done by the Great Recession of 2008. Workers, families and small businesspeople would all be hammered if we leave. The safe choice is to vote to remain in Europe".

The letter from former retailers states: "If we leave the European Union prices will rise. There are two key reasons for this. Firstly, supply chains. We've spent the last few decades building very strong supply chains with the EU, which are fully integrated in order to deliver better quality, choice and value for the UK consumer.

"The single market and free trade are critically important to the strength of the consumer economy. Food is always one of the battle grounds for trade negotiations and the idea that we can reshape supply chains which have taken 45 years to build, in two to three years, is delusional.

"Secondly, the value of the pound. In the past two weeks alone, as worries over leaving Europe have increased, the pound has fallen dramatically.

"This will push up prices. A Leave vote will very likely make this worse and lead to a further rise in prices - such as the cost of filling a petrol tank, and the price of a weekly shop. We strongly believe that a Brexit will see less money in people's pockets and be catastrophic for millions of ordinary families."

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