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UK will be marginalised if it votes to stay in EU, says John Longworth

Civitas, 12 April 2016

The biggest certainty ahead of the EU referendum is that Britain will be marginalised by the eurozone if it votes to stay in, John Longworth warned today.

Mr Longworth, the former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), told a Civitas seminar: “The things that the prime minister says, incorrectly, will happen to us if we leave will certainly happen to us if we stay.

“If we want to address the uncertainty issue, the one thing we can be absolutely certain of is that the very thing the prime minister says will happen to us if we leave will happen to us if we stay.

“We will be marginalised. The eurozone will take all the decisions in the EU, we will have to abide by all the regulations and we will have no say. We will still have to fund it and we will have no liberty to do anything about it.

“We live in a very uncertain world. In an uncertain world, and business faces uncertainty all the time, the very best thing you can do is have control over your own affairs. We have got to take back control and leave the EU.”

Mr Longworth, who was forced to quit the BCC after saying Britain could have a “brighter future” outside the EU, said two things had led him to the conclusion that Britain should leave – the poor deal that David Cameron negotiated and the government’s decision to campaign to stay in.

“There were two things that tipped me over the edge, one was the deal Cameron came back with. The other thing was the attitude of the government, which should be the organisation that provides the information for people to make decisions.

“The fact that the government decided to lower itself to a campaigning organisation that we cannot believe, because obviously their campaigning is going to be a particular view, and that they ran Project Fear which is effectively running down our economy up to 23 June.

“And what if we win, what if we leave the European Union? How the heck are they going to row back from that? Are they going to say to the world’s markets ‘oh no, we were only kidding, it’s all okay, don’t worry’? It’s crazy.

“The natural conclusion of all those things led me to the view that we should leave.”

Mr Longworth said that the EU single market had not been designed for Britain, as evidenced by the fact that there is no meaningful single market in services.

“The single market is not designed for the UK. It’s designed for French agriculture and German manufacturing, because they designed it,” he said.

“We are faced with a situation where the EU has no meaningful single market in services, the thing that we excel at. There is no interest in the EU of creating a single market in services because it won’t suit the Germans and the French.”

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