EU referendum what would be the impact of 'Brexit' on the…

The economic arguments of the EU referendum appear to be handsomely in favour of the ‘Remain’ camp – but just how bad would it be were Britain to ‘Brexit’?

A plummeting value of the pound, sharp rises in inflation, a slump in house prices and businesses ‘Brexiting’ from Cambridge to elsewhere in Europe in the wake of a vote to leave have all been forecast by experts.

The International Monetary Fund, the Bank of England, the Treasury, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the London School of Economics have all come out and said the UK economy would shrink if Britain left the EU.

The debate around the economy has not all been one-way traffic, though.

Four local business owners say leaving the European Union will embolden Britain to negotiate its own trade deals with the rest of the world, and free it from the stagnant growth of the Eurozone.

The European Union has no trade deal with emerging markets such as India or China, for instance.

“Outside the EU we are no longer the permanent awkward minority relying on emergency brakes, opt-outs, carve-outs and avoiding bail-outs because we are fundamentally at odds with the EU’s objective of ever closer political union,” said John May, chairman of Business for Britain East of England.

“We are the fifth biggest economy in the world and from the UN Security Council downwards, we will have the same influential voice at the top table as all the world’s supra-national organisations.

“In addition to which we join in our own right the World Trade Organisation, which has done far more than the EU to bring down the barriers, tariffs and costs of trade in this globally competitive, technology-driven world.”

However, these trade deal arguments are countered by ‘Remainers’ who argue trade deals would take years to negotiate – a claim dismissed by Mr May.

“We hold good cards when we sit down at the EU negotiating table,” he said.

“The notion that it will take a long time is nonsense. Any FTSE chief executive will tell you, if your biggest customer and a major supplier to you of goods and services serves notice, they jump to the head of the queue.”

Yet the evidence of the economic impact of ‘Brexit’ continues to mount.

Supermarket bosses, airlines, energy providers and many others have said prices will go up if Britain leaves.

There were even claims yesterday that a season ticket to London from Cambridge would rise by £165 per year in the event of Brexit.

It is widely acknowledged the pound could be heavily impacted by a vote to leave, with some analysts forecasting falls of as much as 30 per cent.

That would mean higher prices for imported goods, driving up inflation.

Remain campaigners say this would be passed in full on to commuters for each year inflation was higher as a result of EU exit, with warnings that the effect could last several years.

Based on the conservative estimate sterling would fall by up to 15 per cent, the cost of an annual season ticket from Cambridge to London would increase by £165 a year.

“While the economy may not be the only factor that people take into account before the vote, it has to be near the top of the list – leaving the EU would mean a real economic shock, putting jobs and living standards at risk,” said Richard Tunnicliffe, the CBI’s regional director for the East.

“Those pushing to leave may shout that this is scaremongering but, quite honestly, the prospect of the UK being on the outside of the EU is pretty chilling for the future of our jobs, investment and future opportunities here in Cambridge.”

Cambridge’s thriving technology industry is also staunchly pro-Europe, given their reliance on exports. Around 90 per cent of the Cambridge tech market is export led.


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