POLITICS

EU Exit Risks Britain's Economic 'Success', Warns Vince Cable

02/04/2014 14:40 BST | Updated 02/04/2014 14:59 BST
Peter Macdiarmid via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, speaks at the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) annual conference on November 19, 2012 in London, England. The United Kingdom's business leaders have gathered at The Grosvenor House Hotel for their yearly one day conference. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

On the eve of Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage's second debate about Britain's membership of the European Union, Vince Cable has warned that leaving the political bloc could throw the country's economic recovery into jeopardy.

The Lib Dem business secretary wrote in a blog on the Huffington Post UK: "No one can plausibly be in favour of the rebalancing the British economy, boosting exports and supporting sustainable growth while being in favour of leaving the EU.

"Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, aerospace and other cutting-edge manufacturers all rely on the EU single market. It is inconceivable to sacrifice the success of our most successful manufacturers to satisfy knee-jerk isolationism.

Cable warned that UKIP and Tory eurosceptics are "pushing Britain towards the exit door and putting all this at risk".

He added: "The Conservatives are too divided to stand up to the Faragists; Labour are too scared of backing a controversial, though just, cause. It is only the Liberal Democrats who are prepared to make the case for continued British membership of the EU."

Cable's comments come as a report published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that 92% of respondents wanted to stay in the EU, with 70% believing that an exit would negatively impact on their business.

Cable wrote: "Within the EU, British car companies face no tariffs and can look forward to long-term certainty. Outside the EU, they could face import tariffs, different rules ill suited to the UK industry and considerable uncertainty. Why put the future of this, and other successful industries, at such risk?

"EU membership offers other advantages too. Trade agreements are negotiated with the collective clout of the world's largest economy. We can, of course, negotiate deals alone, but some of the world's largest, most attractive markets are also some of the world's most protectionist; India, for example, has a 100% tariff on cars. We can only prise open those markets to the benefit of our companies and the jobs they support by negotiating collectively and pooling our strength."

Cable's comments come amid mounting debate about Britain's membership of the European Union as David Cameron promised to hold a referendum by 2017.

Former Labour business secretary Lord Mandelson warned on Tuesday that British voters would be "stark staring bonkers" if they chose to quit the European Union.

He told a business conference that Britain would be left "whistling in the wind" in its free trade negotiations if it was no longer part of the European Union.

Speaking alongside the Labour peer, former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke said that countries in the eurozone would not take the "faintest notice of what the British government's position is" if it was outside of the European Union.

A post-debate poll of the audience found that two thirds of those present felt that Britain's future resided in staying part of the European Union, while only a third thought the opposite.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls warned that "even talking" about "walking away" from the European Union was "anti-jobs and anti business".

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Brexiters