Pol­i­cy­fo­rum: UK­could­be­come‘ageinge­con­omy’

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS -

The head of Theresa May’s pol­icy fo­rum has said there is a “very real prospect” that the UK will be­come an “iso­lated, small, in­su­lar, old, age­ing econ­omy” af­ter Brexit.

Con­ser­va­tive MP Ge­orge Free­man said the night­mare vi­sion was one of two po­ten­tial sce­nar­ios which could de­velop af­ter with­drawal from the EU.

Bri­tain faces a “gen­er­a­tion-defin­ing choice” over whether it goes down this path or be­comes “a happy, pros­per­ous, pur­pose­ful na­tion again” by un­leash­ing a postBrexit revo­lu­tion in en­trepreneur­ship and in­no­va­tion, he said. Op­po­nents of a hard Brexit seized upon his com­ments as a warn­ing of what could go wrong with Brexit.

But Mr Free­man, the chair­man of the Con­ser­va­tive Pol­icy Fo­rum, in­sisted he was merely high­light­ing the fact Bri­tain must choose be­tween “man­aged de­cline or na­tional re­newal”.

Speak­ing to the IPPR think tank, the MP said that when his chil­dren asked him about what would hap­pen af­ter Brexit, he told them to imag­ine them­selves look­ing back from 20 years in the fu­ture.

Viewed from there, Brexit could end up be­ing seen as “the mo­ment we fi­nally failed and be­came a sec­ond or third tier na­tion”, he sug­gested. But he also laid out an al­ter­na­tive fu­ture in which “we un­leashed a revo­lu­tion of en­trepreneur­ship and in­no­va­tion, we con­nected with emerg­ing mar­kets, we be­came a cru­cible of the tech­nolo­gies, in­no­va­tive prod­ucts and ser­vices that al­lowed the world to de­velop at a pace never hith­erto seen”.

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