In his first election campaign speech on Monday, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats said that Britain’s planned withdrawal from the European Union was already making citizens poorer and that British Prime Minister Theresa May would make it worse by accept a “hard Brexit”.
“These are figures about what is happening. As you heard just recently, growth is down, consumer spending after the splurge last year is also down and, crucially, the amount of money that people have in their pockets is down in real terms because of course, tragically, while last year people’s earnings were starting to creep up above the increase in prices in the shops, that’s now flipped around because of the increase in inflation brought about by depreciation in the pound,” he said.
“In other words, there’s a real Brexit squeeze already imposing itself on millions of hard-pressed folk in this country which, in my judgment, will only be made considerable worse by the choice – and it is a choice – that Theresa May has made to pursue the most uncompromising version of Brexit in the months and years ahead,” noted the former deputy prime minister.
Prime Minister May (pictured below) triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March to officially begin divorce talks between Britain and the EU. However, Brexit negotiations will not begin until after the UK general election.
Last month, May called a snap election in order to bolster her position before going into two years of negotiations with the EU about Britain’s departure from the bloc. The election will be held on June 8, nearly a year after 52 percent of Britons voted to leave the European Union (EU). The current parliament will dissolve on June 3.
If Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal, it would have to rely on so-called World Trade Organization rules, which would immediately raise the cost of trade for both sides but impact the UK more as its relative dependence on EU trade is higher than the EU’s on Britain.
Under the “hard Brexit” formula, the UK will lose its preferential access to the EU’s single market and suffer from soured relations with other EU members.
Britain could lose up to £66 billion ($81 billion) a year in GDP and the government could lose almost a tenth of its tax revenue under a so-called hard Brexit, leaked government papers suggest.
UK economic output could fall up to 9.5 percent if the country leaves the European Union’s single market, The Times reported, citing a draft government paper.