Britain is “poorer” following the Brexit vote and anyone who has been abroad knows it, former Tory chancellor George Osborne has said.
Osborne, whose many job roles include being editor of the London Evening Standard and chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said that Britain and the European Union “both need each other” and that the UK is not ready to “crash” out of the EU by Spring 2019.
Responding to the accusation that Osborne’s comments were a case of “sour grapes”, the staunch Remain campaigner told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “I wanted Britain to stay in the European Union but I’m not someone who thinks that we can reverse that decision.
“I want to make now the best of that decision.
“The country is poorer and you will know this because those of you have been on holiday or are on holiday in Europe.
“You will know now that when you go to the money changers you roughly get a pound for a euro.
“That’s the way the international markets, that’s the way the global investment community has seen Brexit.
“They’ve made our country poorer relative to others and we’ve gone from being the fastest growing of the G7 to one of the slowest growing.
“I spent years trying to turn around the British economy.”
The current exchange rate stands at €1.09 for £1.
Osborne said that Britain needed a transition deal and poured scorn on the idea that no deal was better than a bad deal.
His comments come as he called on Theresa May to commit to building high-speed rail links across the north of the country.
He said that a “northern powerhouse” rail network connecting Liverpool to Hull must be planned for as the Government presses on with the delivery of HS2.
Writing in The Financial Times, Osborne said: “The Northern Powerhouse Rail fits with Mrs May’s stated objective of building an economy that works for everyone.
“Far be it from me to offer advice to the Prime Minister on how to relaunch her premiership this autumn, but making this big commitment to the North at the Conservative conference in Manchester would not be a bad place to start.”
Osborne said plans for HS3 “will not be cheap”, with some estimates for the Pennine construction reaching £7 billion.
But he added: “This new railway would transform the northern economy.”
The Prime Minister has said she remains “absolutely committed” to delivering North-South railway HS2, but has been cautious about supporting any HS3 link.