Siemen's boss dismisses Michael Gove's Brexit claims as 'unbelievable'

Top business leader says Gove statement 'lacks any understanding of what the single market is all about and the benefits it generates' 

Oliver Wright
Political Editor
Sunday 08 May 2016 17:33
Mr Gove speaks at Vote Leave HQ at Westminister tower during first week of official campaign for EU referendum vote
Mr Gove speaks at Vote Leave HQ at Westminister tower during first week of official campaign for EU referendum vote

Michael Gove have been accused by one of Britain’s top business leaders of lacking “any understanding” of the European single market after he claimed the UK could have free access to EU markets without abiding by it’s rules.

Mr Gove told the BBC the UK could enjoy a relationship with the EU that had "all the advantages" but "none of the payouts" by forging a new trading deal.

The Justice Secretary added the UK should leave the single market but would be able to agree to tariff-free trading with the remaining EU members.

But Jeurgen Maier, Chief Executive of Siemens UK, that employs 13,000 British workers and has an annual turnover of £5 billion, dismissed Mr Gove plan as “unbelievable”.

“This lacks any understanding of what the single market is all about and the benefits it generates,” he said. “Unbelievable.”

He was backed by Sir Michael Rake, Chairman of BT, who said the single market was “critical to the economic security of the country, investment and jobs”.

"This kind of statement moves the Leave campaign from the naive to the irresponsible,” he said.

“It proves that they have lost the economic argument and simply don't care about the very serious risks to jobs, investment and Britain's economy that leaving Europe would pose."

Mr Gove was also attacked by the Chancellor George Osborne.

"We've just had the Leave campaign admit this morning that Britain would leave the single market, that's the largest free trade area in the world," the Chancellor said.

"That would be catastrophic for people's jobs and their incomes and their livelihoods.

"Some people might think wrecking the economy is a price worth paying, I absolutely reject that."

Highlighting Treasury claims that families will be £4,300 worse off if the UK pulls out of the union, Mr Osborne told ITV's Peston On Sunday: "If we leave the single market actually our analysis says we'll be worse off than that.

"And there's a short term hit - I think it's very important for people to think about that and we are going to be producing some more research on that in the coming weeks.

"It's already clear from the Treasury analysis that for example, there would a significant shock to the housing market, that would hit the value of people's homes, that would hit the cost of mortgages.”

But Mr Gove earlier told the Marr programme that a vote to Remain would leave the UK at risk of losing even more control over its financial affairs while a vote Leave would allow Britain to “dictate the terms in Britain's economic interests".

"We should be outside the single market, we should have access to the single market but we should not be governed by the rules that the European Court of Justice imposes on us which cost business and restrict freedom," he said.

"At the moment there are no tariffs between the UK and other countries in the European Union. Why should we seek to impose those tariffs when we are outside?"

Mr Gove said both sides could accept there was no need to erect tariffs where none existed.

"German car manufacturers are not going to want to have tariffs erected when they sell many more cars to us than we sell to them," he said. "I cannot imagine a situation where, if any individual nation within the EU wanted to erect tariffs that others would let them."

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