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'Jobs, low prices and financial security at risk' if UK backs Brexit

Published 02/05/2016

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The UK economy could face a £250 billion hit in lost trade if the country votes to leave the European Union, Remain campaigners have claimed.

The Britain Stronger in Europe analysis suggests that trade to the European Union would be £224 billion lower if there was no deal in place after a Brexit.

There would also be a £9 billion fall in trade with the wider European Economic Area and £14 billion in lost trade with countries which have deals with the EU.

Former chancellor Lord Alistair Darling said the analysis showed that leaving "would put jobs, low prices and financial security at risk".

The figures draw on Treasury analysis of the "EU effect" on the UK, which suggests that trade with EU countries is 76% higher than it would have been outside the bloc.

For the EEA the figure is 44% higher and for countries the EU has a free-trade deal with the figure is 17% higher.

The Remain camp applied the "EU effect" to the trade figures from 2014 to calculate the benefit of EU membership, and therefore the amount which could be at risk if the country votes to leave on June 23.

The figures suggest what might happen if the UK is outside the single market and relies on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules - although Brexit campaigners insist they would be able to strike a preferential deal with the EU after a Leave vote.

Lord Darling said: "Those wanting to leave the EU want to pull Britain out of the single market, which would mean introducing tariffs and barriers to our trade and putting billions of vital trade at risk.

"The choice is between free trade within the EU's single market of 500 million consumers, or spending years negotiating new trade deals only to leave us in a weaker position than we enjoy today.

"Leaving the single market would be catastrophic for our businesses and our families who would be paying more and suffering from a weaker economy.

"There is no trading arrangement outside the EU which gives us the free trade we rely on today. Leaving would put jobs, low prices and financial security at risk."

Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott questioned the figures used by the Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaign and repeated his claim that the UK would "stop sending Brussels" £350 million a week - a sum which does not take into account Britain's rebate.

He said: " BSE can't even be consistent or honest in their campaign to do down the British economy.

"Their underlying belief appears to be that Britain - the world's fifth largest economy and a nation with a great history of trading across the globe - would be an economic backwater if it wasn't for Brussels taking control of our trade deals. That's absurd.

"After we vote Leave we will take back control of the powers we've surrendered to EU bureaucrats and stop sending Brussels £350 million a week. That would boost our economy and allow us to spend our money on our priorities."

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