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It's a Consensus, Not a Conspiracy, When Allies Say 'Don't Leave the EU'

09/06/2016 16:50

When nine out of ten economists say that, in their expert judgement, Britain's economy would suffer if we left the European Single Market, an adequate answer cannot simply be to point at historic examples where other experts got it wrong.

Forecasts aren't always perfect, but they do have immense value and should not simply be dismissed - particularly when there is such a weight of expert opinion pointing to the same conclusion: that leaving the European Union poses a significant risk to our economy. By swatting aside any analysis that doesn't fit their narrative as "an establishment stitch up" or explaining away anything from an institution that once received government funding on that basis, the Leave campaign are doing the public, and institutions made up of exceedingly bright and experienced men and women - some of which, such as the IMF, exist in order to advise world leaders about risks to their economies - a massive disservice.

Time and time again we have been told that their economic warnings should be taken with a huge pinch of salt, that they aren't worth the paper they are written on. This is not only wrong, it is reckless.

When the Governor of the Bank of England warns that Brexit is "the biggest domestic risk to financial stability" and the Institute for Fiscal Studies say that we might have to extend austerity by another two years because of the damage leaving the EU would do to our tax revenues, I would not be representing my constituents - who would feel the consequences of fewer jobs, higher prices and a smaller economy - if I simply ignored them.

However I also accept that forecasts are not facts, either. As much as we have every legitimate reason to believe Brexit would throw our economy into chaos we haven't, thankfully, yet had the chance to be proven right.

If some people doubt the validity of these expert opinions, they should instead take note of what our allies and friends are saying; many of whom lead the countries Nigel Farage and others say hold the key to a brighter future for Britain outside the EU - such as the USA and Commonwealth countries.

Those countries couldn't be clearer: they all want Britain to say in the European Union. Not only are they alarmed about the prospect of our strong, growing economy being unnecessarily put at risk, they recognise the influence we have within the European club and why this benefits both them and international security. President Obama described our influence as "outsized" and argued that our EU membership "magnifies" our global influence and "enhances Britain's global leadership". Prime Minister Turnbull has also spoken publically about "Britain's strong role in "Europe" and about how it is an "unalloyed plus" for Australia. The Prime Minister of New Zealand said that if they were next to Europe, they "would be looking to join, we certainly wouldn't be looking to leave" and Prime Minister Modi recently described Britain as "the entry point to the European Union for India" - something that would end the moment we withdrew from the Single Market.

No serious person can accuse the leaders of the largest democracies in the world of being part of some giant conspiracy. Our allies have their own interests, as well as ours, at heart when they take these positions. They cannot, and should not, be dismissed.

Perhaps it is those who want us to leave the EU that are wrong, not everyone else. I am not prepared to gamble our country's future on a throw of the dice when the risks have been so clearly and consistently identified. I am not prepared to ignore our all of our allies and take a leap in the dark. That is why I will voting for Britain to stay in the European Union, where I believe we have a safer, stronger and more prosperous future.

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