Daily Express

At last, Osborne admits a Brexit plan is under way

- By Macer Hall Political Editor

TREASURY officials are making plans for how to deal with Britain quitting the EU, George Osborne admitted yesterday.

The Chancellor confirmed his Whitehall staff were doing “quite a serious amount of contingenc­y planning” to deal with potential financial consequenc­es of a Leave vote in the June 23 referendum.

His remarks were seen last night as recognitio­n within the Government that chances of a vote to exit Europe appear to be growing.

Until he spoke out, Government ministers and officials had repeatedly insisted no planning was being done for a Brexit vote.

As recently as Tuesday, David Cameron’s spokesman said: “We are not doing any contingenc­y planning for the referendum being a vote to leave.”

Mr Osborne was quizzed about post-referendum preparatio­ns during a session of the Commons Treasury Committee at Westminste­r yesterday.

He told MPs on the committee: “I think there would be very significan­t financial volatility around a vote to leave, and the Bank of England and the Treasury are doing quite a serious amount of contingenc­y planning for the impact on financial stability in the aftermath of a vote to leave.

“I don’t think it’s appropriat­e to go into too much detail on that but we have made public various things like the fact we would have additional liquidity auctions.”

Mr Osborne said it would be up to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to decide whether to pump more money into the economy to try to prevent a downturn in response to money market jitters after a Brexit.

The Chancellor said: “We are undertakin­g a lot of contingenc­y planning for the immediate financial stability consequenc­es if the country were to vote to leave.

“That would have a number of impacts on our financial system.

“It would be for the Monetary Policy Committee to make its decisions on both the bank rate and also things like quantitati­ve easing.”

Mr Osborne also denied “fiddling the figures” in Treasury assessment of the consequenc­es of Brexit in an attempt to scare the voters into voting to stay.

And he insisted the “overwhelmi­ng” view of leading economists was that Britain would be poorer outside the EU.

He faced a string of questions about the Treasury’s claim that household income would be £4,300 a year lower by 2030 if Britain quit the EU.

Tory backbenche­r Jacob Rees-Mogg said the calculatio­ns had left “the suspicion that the report has taken absolutely the best it can for remaining and the worst for leaving”.

He told Mr Osborne: “When you set up the Office for Budget Responsibi­lity, you said ‘I am the first chancellor to remove the temptation to fiddle the figures by giving up control of economic and fiscal forecasts’.

“Have you taken back control so that you can fiddle the figures?”

Rejecting the claim, the Chancellor said: “It is the job of the finance minister of the country to communicat­e

to people the consequenc­es of the decision they may undertake.

“That requires me to find language that people understand and therefore I think it is perfectly reasonable to set out, up front and centre and in the public remarks I made – that there was a range and explain what the central estimate was.”

He added: “I think it’s important in this debate to look at the weight of the evidence.

“Of course there is going to be claim and counter claim. But when it comes to the economic cost of leaving the EU versus the potential benefits you have to weigh up that. You have a small number of individual­s, long associated with the campaign to leave the EU on one side of the argument and, on the other side of the argument, the vast bulk of economic opinion in this country, every major financial institutio­n in this country, every internatio­nal financial organisati­on and a host of external observers of the British economy.”

 ??  ?? George Osborne told MPs of planning
George Osborne told MPs of planning

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