EU referendum: Britain Stronger in Europe to launch campaign showing Vote Leave director admitting Brexit could cost jobs

Exclusive: The leader of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign talks tactics with Mark Leftly

Mark Leftly
Deputy Political Editor
Saturday 24 October 2015 22:20
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Think-tanks have shown that UK jobs are linked to trade with the EU, so some are likely to be lost should Britain leave
Think-tanks have shown that UK jobs are linked to trade with the EU, so some are likely to be lost should Britain leave

Campaigners for keeping Britain in the European Union believe they have identified a fundamental weakness in the Brexit camp, after Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings admitted a departure from the bloc could cost jobs.

The Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaign will launch a poster and video based on Mr Cummings’s comments, made at a Spectator debate last week.

The former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg claimed in a television debate last year that the UK would lose 3.1 million jobs as a result of a Brexit – an argument that has since been discredited. However, think-tanks have shown that these jobs are linked to trade with the EU, so some are likely to be lost should Britain leave.

Jobs

At the debate Mr Cummings said: “I think in the short term there would definitely be, there are definitely problems … for some areas, yes. If we got out, there would be some problems. In particular, there are some areas such as agriculture which are subsidised by poor tax-payers at the moment, and we would have to have some kind of transitional system, to help them in the short term.”

BSE executive director Will Straw, who was in debating with Mr Cummings, told The Independent on Sunday: “It was wrong in the past for some pro-European campaigners to say that all those jobs would be at risk if we left the EU, that’s patently not true.

“My challenge to Dominic Cummings was, could he say that none of these jobs would be at risk if we left the EU? He couldn’t.

Will Straw: Britain gets the best of both worlds by being in the EU

“This is a fundamental weakness, because their message is that we would be better off outside the EU. Can they stand that up if they’re admitting, just a couple of weeks into the debate, that some jobs would be at risk if we left?”

Brexiters believe their opponents are “grasping at straws”. A Vote Leave spokesman pointed to comments made recently by BSE chairman Sir Stuart Rose: “The BSE campaign chair has publicly admitted that ‘absolutely nothing will change’ in regards to the UK economy if we vote to leave, so suggestions of job losses are nothing more than cynical scaremongering that even their own side don’t believe.”

But Mr Straw, the 35-year-old son of the former foreign secretary Jack Straw, thinks jobs in the automotive, agricultural and financial services sectors could go, because they are dependent on links with EU countries. “They [Brexiters] make an argument that we would be able more quickly to do a trade deal with countries like China, India and the US, but ours is a matter of simple arithmetic. The deal that we get at the level of a single market of 500 million [people] is going to be better than deal we get at the level of 65 million [British people].

“So we get the best of both worlds by being in the EU, by being able to shape the rules and regulations, and having that free trade access to that market of 500 million while also being able to make our way in the world with other fast-emerging countries.”

The ‘In’ poster using ‘Out’ words

Mr Straw stood for Labour in the Rossendale and Darwen constituency at the last general election, but lost to incumbent Conservative Jake Berry. He admits he is sick of the term “red prince” that has been attached to him and other sons of Labour figures with political ambitions, such as Tony Blair’s son Euan. Mr Straw pointedly referred to Stephen Kinnock as one of the new MPs for Wales, rather than the son of former leader, Neil Kinnock: “In many professions there are people who do what either their mums or dads have done. I don’t think it’s particularly unique, and I was putting myself forward to be the member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen and they chose someone else. I hope to make a difference to politics in this country, and I have the opportunity to do that with this job.”

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