A forecast £60bn hit to the UK’s finances would still represent a good deal for Brexit, according to former British Chambers of Commerce boss John Longworth.
The Office for Budget Responsibility predicted the Brexit blow in figures published as part of the Autumn Statement, warning the UK would have to borrow £60bn over five years to make up for reduced migration, among other factors.
But Brexiteers have since hit back, arguing the economists are too pessimistic, and now the former BCC director-general has waded in, arguing that even if the OBR’s sums are accurate, £60bn remains a price worth paying.
Writing for City A.M., Longworth argued that £60bn equates to six years of the UK’s net contributions to the EU, or six years of the UK aid budget.
“What does it profit a nation to be a little more wealthy and to sell its soul? Our forbears paid many, many times more in treasure and blood not to be ruled by a foreign power or to have a foreign court dictate to us and to have control of our own affairs.
“The price of liberty is incalculable,” he said.
Longworth also paid tribute to chancellor Philip Hammond for shifting away from the approach of his predecessor, branding Hammond “flexible Phil” and praising the Treasury’s zeal for infrastructure investment.
“His support for the British Business Bank provision of patient capital for gazelle businesses is a smart move if we want to have an enterprise economy which produces the sector champions of the future, rather than being forced to sell out to foreign multi nationals,” Longworth said.
“If properly followed up, in all the Autumn Statement provides the building blocks for Britain to be the best enterprise economy in the world.”
November 28th, 2016: City AM