A year ago I wrote in this column of my fears on Britain leaving the EU, of ‘uncertain and worrying times’. This week the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the country in his Spring Statement that economic growth over the next few years will be slower than predicted two years ago. We are potentially headed into the worst five years economically since World War Two.
If Brexit goes ahead, we will continue to pay into the European Union until 2064. We will not get the £350 million for the NHS those pushing Brexit promised. Another 10,000 civil servants are being taken on in Whitehall, at a cost of £2 billion, to try to deal with the chaos Brexit is causing. As Chuka Umunna said this week, we face ‘falling real wages, slow growth and high inflation, and a huge divorce bill in return for a worse relationship with the EU’. That divorce bill stands at over £37 billion according to the Government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development says we will be the slowest growing economy in the G20 group of nations next year. The Financial Times warned this week that British businesses face costs of £27 billion a year in red tape outside of the EU, according to the World Trade Organisation. An estimated 65,000 UK companies with fewer than 50 employees trade only with the EU, and Brexit threatens to bring considerable costs. This will impact on many small and medium sized enterprises in Brighton and Hove trading with countries outside of the UK.
These are no longer just claims from campaign groups; they are sober assessments by respected national and international bodies. They are sombre and disturbing, and could not come at a worse time. Our Government is paralysed and I would like to see Labour change tack.
The world is an increasingly dangerous and uncertain place, with Putin and Trump pursuing worryingly nationalist agendas. The EU, more than ever, is a safe and stable home that we should not be leaving. We must be given the chance to reject the chaotic, harmful and ruinous Brexit that is being imposed on us.
Cllr Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove