Three of Britain’s leading independent economic institutions have issued a final warning that Britain will “almost certainly” be worse off outside the EU, saying that no economic question in their lifetimes has ever been subject to so much agreement among experts.
Challenging Leave campaign claims that Britain’s economy would not suffer from Brexit, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) said that “almost all of those who have looked seriously at this issue” were predicting lower real wages in event of Brexit, higher prices for goods and services, higher borrowing costs and higher unemployment.
“In our lifetimes we have never seen such a degree of unanimity among economists on a major policy issue,” the directors of the three institutions said in a joint statement. “The precise effect, in terms of numerical percentage, is of course uncertain. But that we would be financially worse off outside the EU than in is almost certainly true.”
Addressing some of the claims of the rival campaigns, they said that the Leave campaign’s pledge of a £10bn Brexit dividend for public services and tax cuts was “almost certainly untrue”. The claim that the UK would, after Brexit, be able to trade with other EU nations on equally good terms to those we currently have was also deemed almost certainly untrue.
Remain campaign assertions that households could be £4,300 a year worse off by 2030 were deemed to be “uncertain”, while warnings that immediate tax rises would be needed in the event of Brexit were branded “unlikely”, with the economists predicting that the Government would instead allow borrowing to rise to cover the economic costs of leaving the EU in the short-term.
The EU referendum debate has so far been characterised by bias, distortion and exaggeration. So until 23 June we we’re running a series of question-and-answer features that explain the most important issues in a detailed, dispassionate way to help inform your decision.