Leaving the Single Market with no trade deal to replace it would be the “single biggest act of protectionism in history”, George Osborne said this morning.
In a speech to the British Chambers of Commerce, the former Chancellor also spoke of the importance of continued trade with the EU after Brexit; said that “trade deals with New Zealand” could not replace that trade if it was reduced; and outlined the difficulties Brexit will pose for our immigration system and for farmers.
Commenting, Anna Soubry MP, leading supporter of Open Britain said:
“George Osborne is right that protecting our economy, jobs and businesses must be at the forefront of the Brexit debate.
“When people who have run our economy speak out on the dangers of hard Brexit, I hope people sit up and take note. Debate didn’t end on June 23rd.
“George Osborne was also absolutely right about our continued need for immigration, both in our economy and in public services like the NHS. And I wholeheartedly agree that we need to be prioritising trade with Europe, our biggest market by far, over smaller Commonwealth countries.
“As a former Chancellor, George Osborne’s words should be listened to and respected across the political spectrum. We need a Brexit deal that protects our economy, not one that makes working people worse off.”
Notes to editors:
George Osborne’s speech is reported here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osborne-single-market-brexit-immigration-theresa-may-a7603391.html
On trade, Mr Osborne said:
“Let’s make sure that we go on doing trade with our biggest export market, otherwise withdrawing from the single market would be the biggest single act of protectionism in the history of United Kingdom and no amount of trade deals with New Zealand are going to replace the amount of trade we do with our European neighbours.”
On unanswered questions, he said:
There were a whole set of other questions that we were not asked – what do you want your immigration policy to look like, what do you want your trade policy to look like, what do you want your business policy to look like? They are now before us as a country and we’re going to have to make decisions on them. That’s where the devil’s going to be in the details.
“Take immigration – do you want to have access to a skilled workforce around the world that wants to come and work in Britain, do you, as David Davis was saying the other day, want to have people who are maybe not so highly skilled coming to fill gaps in agriculture or catering and the like? That’s going to be the immigration decision we’ve got to take.
“Do you want to go on paying farming subsidies paid for by other taxpayers, do you want to make sure industry competes in a fair and free market or are you going to allow secretaries of states to make decisions to support individual companies and is that a good thing?
On immigration, he said:
“Now we need to have the debate about immigration, where I think it’s important that we have access to skilled immigration from around the world and we’re a magnet for talent.
“It’s important our universities continue to attract students from abroad – indeed the Government boasts that one in seven of all the world leaders were educated in Britain at some point. Well great, let’s make that that continues to be the case.”