On Monday the lifelong Brexiteer Daniel Hannan, who also sits on Vote Leave's campaign committee, made a typically thoughtful intervention, in a video uploaded to his YouTube account. In so doing he also demolished two central planks of Vote Leave's campaign, saying he believes the UK should accept the free movement of people and pay into the EU budget, adopting a similar model to EFTA members Switzerland or Norway. Daniel also admitted the UK would have to accept much EU regulation while losing any influence over rules that will continue to affect British businesses, should we vote to leave.
While Daniel was busy contradicting their core arguments, Vote Leave were advocating that UK firms exporting to the EU should be hit with tariffs by adopting a similar model to the United States. Within the course of a single afternoon, the Brexiteers had proposed three different alternative models for the UK. Each had one thing in common, they would all be deeply damaging to the British economy and lead to fewer jobs, less investment and lower growth.
A Swiss-style EFTA agreement would mean only partial access to the single market, crucially excluding financial services, and would take up to a decade to negotiate meaning years of damaging uncertainty. Both Norway and Switzerland abide by EU rules without any say over them, pay into the EU budget and accept the free movement of people. This would be a huge loss of sovereignty. We would be giving up our influence in Europe for almost nothing in return.
Meanwhile trading under WTO rules, as Vote Leave are now advocating, would mean hammering UK businesses exporting to the EU with tariffs of 10% for cars, 12% for clothing and 40% for lamb. This would be the worst of all options, crippling for the thousands of businesses and investors who rely on the UK's membership of the EU single market. Treasury analysis shows adopting this model would hit the UK economy to the tune of £5,200 a year for the average household and lead to a black hole in the public finances of £45 billion. This would dwarf the small savings from leaving the EU and decimate public services including the NHS.
Daniel Hannan and other leading Vote Leave figures are of course entitled to their views. But they owe it to the British people to at least agree on the very basics of what their vision is for Britain outside the EU. To add to the general confusion, Boris Johnson has also wrongly claimed that outside of the EU, British supermarkets would be free from [non-existent] restrictions that stop them selling bananas in bunches of more than two or three.
Vote Leave cannot credibly deny the fact that a leaving the EU would be a leap in the dark that would put the UK economy at risk. A vote to stay is a vote for certainty and to secure jobs, lower prices and financial security for British families.
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