Belfast Telegraph

Brexit minister Priti Patel takes swipes at Home Office and Treasury

A pro-Brexit minister has launched a scathing attack on the "chaos" of Britain's immigration controls.

Employment minster Priti Patel also ridiculed economic predictions from Government colleagues in the Treasury as Tory infighting continued to escalate.

The sharp intervention came as a new study warned that staying in the EU could be damaging for London's position as a major global financial hub.

In an apparent swipe at pro-Remain Home Secretary Theresa May, Ms Patel wrote in The Sun: "There is another great bonus of leaving the EU, we'll be able to design a new immigration system that brings the chaos under control and helps the economy.

"It's uncontrolled and uncontrollable while we remain in the EU. It is running at the rate of a million every three years. Last year, 270,000 arrived from Europe alone.

"It is crazy that we make it so hard for Indian geniuses to come here just because they don't have EU passports and just because we have to let in anyone from Europe who feels like coming here and trying their luck at finding a job.

"It's not the wealthy and the corporate elite who have seen their wages undercut and the pressure on their schools and hospitals, or who can't get on to the housing ladder."

Ms Patel, who attends Cabinet meetings, also hit out at Treasury forecasting of what would happen after a withdrawal from the EU.

"If the Government seriously believed the doom-laden propaganda they have been pumping out about the horrors of life after the EU, they would never have called this referendum in the first place.

"The Government thinks it can predict what will happen in the economy in 2030. Last November, the Treasury said there was going to be a windfall of £27 billion from unexpectedly high tax receipts.

"When the Budget came round in March, that had turned into a £56 billion shortfall. Fourteen years ahead? They can't even predict 14 weeks ahead," Ms Patel said.

The comments came as former Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith welcomed a report by ex-HSBC chief Michael Geoghegan, and independent risk consulting specialist Peter Udale, which warned of the dangers for London of the UK staying in the EU.

"New research released today details the scale of the risk to our financial industry, which employs more than two million people throughout the UK, and funds 12% of spending on public services.

"If we stay in the EU, with our veto over eurozone integration given away by the Prime Minister in February, we will be in a weaker and weaker position to protect our interests.

"The report sets out in detail plans ranging from hostile regulation to attempts to remove British representation from key international bodies. It also warns us of the threat posed by the proposed Financial Transaction Tax," Mr Duncan Smith wrote in The Times.

The report states: "Access to the single European market is not fundamental to, nor the reason for, London's success.

"Although the EU single market is important to the UK - it accounts for one third of our financial service exports - the rest of the world accounts for two thirds and is growing more rapidly. The UK has to weigh up whether the benefit of unfettered access to the single market is really worth the constraints, costs and risks which result from our EU membership.

"There is a growing body of evidence which shows that EU membership comes at a significant and increasing cost to the UK.

"The EU looks inwards, not outwards. EU rules are designed to deliver faster integration and to preserve the Euro, not to deliver growth or improve international competitiveness. Evidence shows that the UK is becoming increasingly isolated within an EU dominated by the eurozone.

"The UK is set to become the victim of progressively more intense and costly discrimination. We have no effective way to prevent it."

Responding to the study, Lucy Thomas, deputy director of Stronger In, said: "Cutting ourselves off from the world's biggest market will wreck our economy and put at risk people's jobs in our financial services industry from Bournemouth to Belfast.

"And the Leave campaign have now confirmed that they are prepared to scrap valuable hard-fought workers' rights.

"This is exactly why leaving Europe is a leap into the dark that would put our future at risk."