Leave accused of Brexit “leap in the dark” on the economy by Worcestershire MP

A COUNTY MP has clashed with the head of the official EU Leave campaign – accusing her of a “leap in the dark” over Brexit.

Harriett Baldwin has taken part in an ill-tempered EU hustings debate where Gisela Stewart, who is running Britain’s Vote Leave, told the audience there is “no status quo” over the increasing transfer of powers to Brussels.

But Mrs Baldwin, a Treasury minister, said £2.9 billion of direct foreign investment has been sunk into the West Midlands “in the five years alone” and accused Leave of putting the economy at risk.

The Tory MP, who represents West Worcestershire, said: “The West Midlands is a really attractive destination for foreign direct investment.

“And three quarters of investors cite being members of the single market as one of the attractions of basing themselves here, and creating jobs.

“Over the last five years alone there have been 230 direct foreign investments into the West Midlands, a total of £2.9 billion pounds creating 16,000 jobs.

“If we put up a sign that says ‘we’re really not sure’? These guys have no clue about this leap in the dark they want to take us into.”

She said some 44,000 West Midlands’ jobs would be at risk under Brexit, before Ms Stewart told her it was about “taking control” of decision making on trade deals.

“The one thing not on the ballot paper is the status quo – if you vote ‘in’ then direct foreign investment and powers over decision making will go to Brussels,” she said.

“That is one of the knock-on effects of the Lisbon Treaty negotiations.

“Our place in the World Trade Organisation will continue to be ‘you’re represented as one of the 28 (EU nations)’.

“If you vote Leave, foreign direct investment is negotiated by the Treasury and you’ll also have a place in the World Trade Organisation.

“But Vote Remain and Brussels will make those decisions – this is about taking control.”

The debate took place last night in Birmingham hosted by BBC Midlands Today, where Lord Digby Jones also got into a heated row with Labour MP Tristram Hunt.

It comes as an academic review today claimed that Treasury analysis has “grossly exaggerated” the impact quitting the EU would have on the nation’s finances.

The study, published by the Cass Business School, claimed most economic modelling has found that Brexit would make little difference to Britain’s economy.

Its author David Blake, a professor from City University London, has accused the Treasury of becoming a “propaganda machine” for Brussels.


A UKIP politician for Worcestershire has defended Nigel Farage – saying the Remain campaign is peddling “false” myths about immigration.

Bill Etheridge, one of two UKIP MEPs representing the West Midlands in Brussels, said claims both his party and the official Leave campaign are “totally against” immigration is untrue.

In recent weeks Mr Farage has faced a barrage of criticism over his repeated attempts to make border control the key EU referendum issue.

Mr Etheridge said: “There is absolutely nothing wrong with immigration to our country – our country needs immigrants and anybody who is sensible knows that.

“The campaign to Leave the EU does not suggest we don’t like immigration or immigrants – all we are talking about is managing the situation so we know the numbers coming in, so we can look at the infrastructure, so we can make sure we have the right skills and we know we’ve got the right people at the right time.”

West Worcestershire Harriett Baldwin, who is helping Remain, said: “They’ve put something forward based on the Australian points system, which actually leads to twice the level of immigration.

“The Australians have twice the levels of immigration into their country than we do.”

It came as Mr Farage, touring in the south of Britain today, seized upon a report by Migration Watch to warn that the UK had to “get a grip” on immigration, leading to fresh criticism about his tactics.

Migration Watch has warned net migration to Britain would continue to run at more than 250,000 a year for the next two decades.

Mr Farage was heckled by a protester who shouted “you disgust me” in his face in Ramsgate, Kent, while he addressed a gathering about it.

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