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Leave campaigners are "playing Russian Roulette with the economic future of the UK" - John Major


Yesterday, a speech by John Major warned about the consequences of the UK leaving the EU. Below are some of the highlights from this important speech:

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"Almost without exception, the questioners – often investors in the UK – believe it [leaving the EU] is a bad idea."

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"I am no starry-eyed European enthusiast. Yet I have not a shred of doubt that the UK should remain a Member of the EU."

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"Within the next 20 years – on present policies and, crucially, with continuing full access to the Single Market – the UK is likely – not certain, but likely – to be the biggest economy in Europe:  bigger than Germany. 

On issues such as the environment, climate change, internet costs and consumer protection, the UK can best progress – or sometimes, only progress – in unity with our fellow Europeans." 

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"I am not, and never have been, a Cold War warrior, but we ignore what Russia is doing at our peril. 

A united Europe can help penalise and deter her:  a disunited, shrivelled Europe cannot."

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"If the UK leaves the EU, the impact will be felt widely – and negatively – not only in the UK but across the EU. 

If the UK departs, the EU will lose:

  • its fastest growing economy;
  • one of only two nuclear powers;  and
  • the country with the longest and deepest foreign policy reach.

As a result, the EU would be gravely weakened, especially when set against the power of the US and China.  Europe – the cradle of modern civilisation – would bow out of super-power influence."

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"Would external investors – China, Japan, America, be more or less likely to invest in the UK if she shrunk to a domestic market of under 65 million, rather than remaining inside a Europe-wide market of over 500 million? 

That is not a difficult question to answer.  The UK would lose investment and jobs.  How much, how many, and how soon is difficult to say – but there is no doubt that would happen."  

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"By leaving the EU, we would be withdrawing from Free Trade Agreements with 53 countries negotiated by the EU on behalf of all their Member States.  These cover 60% of all UK trade. 

They will all need re-negotiation:  a tough – and almost certainly lengthy – process.  It is pure self-deception to believe that less than 65 million Britons will get the same favourable terms as 500 million Europeans."

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"Our partners are more concerned with multilateral trade agreements, and will see the UK’s need for a speedy bilateral deal as a self-imposed own goal:  we may well have to wait our turn to have any new deals agreed – and it could take many years.    

To brush aside such realities is to play Russian roulette with the economic future of the UK."

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"The battle now joined over Europe has – on one side – the romantic nostalgia of an “Out” campaign that aches for a past that has long gone, in a world that has moved on. 

On the other side those – like me – who wish to remain are not European dreamers:  we are realists who see an edgy, uncomfortable world, and believe that the UK is safer, more secure and better off remaining with our partners in Europe."

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"That is why – between now and June – I will be doing all I can to persuade the British people that the consequences of our leaving the EU would be bad for the UK, bad for Europe, and bad for the wider world. 

I hope and believe that – on 23 June – good sense will prevail, and we can finally lay this particular ghost to rest.  I have no doubt that, once it is, our international investors will breathe a large sigh of relief … as most definitely will I."