Brexit ‘like ap­pease­ment of Nazis’ – Mal­loch-Brown

Western Mail - - UK & WORLD NEWS - SHAUN CON­NOLLY news­desk@waleson­

Brexit has been com­pared by a lead­ing Re­main sup­porter to ap­pease­ment of Nazi Ger­many in the 1930s.

Former for­eign of­fice min­is­ter Lord Mal­loch-Brown, head of the Best for Bri­tain group, made the com­ments after bil­lion­aire Ge­orge Soros an­nounced a cam­paign for a new Brexit ref­er­en­dum is set to be launched.

Mr Soros - who is re­ported to have given about £500,000 to Best for Bri­tain, which was set up last year by anti-Brexit cam­paigner Gina Miller said ac­tion was needed as EU with­drawal was “im­mensely dam­ag­ing” for the UK.

Lord Mal­loch-Brown said Bri­tain needed to stay close to the EU be­cause in­stances like ap­pease­ment showed what hap­pened when the UK tried to shut it­self off from the con­ti­nent.

He told BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme: “Bri­tain’s his­tory as an is­land na­tion ad­ja­cent to main­land Europe is when we try to, sort of, pull away from Europe’s prob­lems and close our­selves off to them they have a hor­ri­ble habit of in­fect­ing us any­way.

“Ap­pease­ment in the 1930s, you name it. For cen­turies Bri­tain has ig­nored events on con­ti­nen­tal Europe at its peril.”

He said Mr Soros’s rep­u­ta­tion as the “man who broke the Bank of Eng­land” in 1992, when the fi­nancier bet against ster­ling on the money mar­kets, was an “un­re­lated is­sue” to the anti-Brexit push.

“He broke the Bank of Eng­land as a fi­nancier be­cause the Bri­tish pound was over-ex­tended. It wasn’t cred­i­ble.

“He broke the pound, not the Bank of Eng­land, I should say.

“He is some­one who has de­voted decades to an ex­tra­or­di­nary global phi­lan­thropy which has fought for democ­racy and open val­ues.”

Best for Bri­tain, which wants to keep the UK open to EU membership, is ex­pected to pub­lish its cam­paign man­i­festo call­ing for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on June 8.

Mean­while, an in­flu­en­tial global body has up­graded its fore­casts for UK eco­nomic per­for­mance, but warned of con­tin­u­ing “high un­cer­tain­ties” over the out­come of Brexit.

The Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment’s twice-yearly Eco­nomic Out­look re­port found that eco­nomic growth re­mains “mod­est” in the UK, com­pared with other ma­jor economies.

It warned that the Gov­ern­ment must stand ready to ease up on aus­ter­ity mea­sures if growth weak­ens sig­nif­i­cantly in the run-up to the UK’s with­drawal from the EU.

Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions should aim to “pre­serve open trade with the Euro­pean Union and high ac­cess for fi­nan­cial ser­vices to EU mar­kets”, said the re­port.

After Bank of Eng­land Gov­er­nor Mark Car­ney held back from ex­pected hikes in in­ter­est rates, the OECD said that the his­tor­i­cally low rates in place since the fi­nan­cial crash of 2008 can be ex­pected to re­turn to “nor­mal” lev­els only at a “very grad­ual pace”.

The May 2018 Eco­nomic Out­look pro­jected GDP growth of 1.4% in the UK this year - up from 1.2% in its Novem­ber 2017 fore­cast.

Growth in 2019 was also nudged up from 1.1% six months ago to 1.3% now.

But the UK con­tin­ues to lag be­hind most ma­jor economies, with world eco­nomic growth fore­cast at 3.8% this year and 3.9% in 2019.

Pro­jected growth in the eu­ro­zone re­mains above 2% and in the US at about 3% in both years, with only Italy and Ja­pan slated to un­der­per­form the UK.

The re­port said that “mod­est” growth in the UK was due to “high un­cer­tain­ties about the out­come of Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions”.

Belt-tight­en­ing mea­sures planned by the Gov­ern­ment for 2018 and 2019 were judged to re­main “ap­pro­pri­ate” in the eco­nomic cir­cum­stances.

But the au­thor­i­ties should “stand ready to fur­ther in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity-en­hanc­ing mea­sures on in­vest­ment if growth weak­ens sig­nif­i­cantly ahead of Brexit”.

Lewis Whyld

> Former for­eign of­fice min­is­ter Lord Mal­loch-Brown

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