Councils issue Brexit ‘grave threat’ warning as polls show Leave in the lead
The leaders of Britain’s largest cities have issued a joint appeal for a Remain vote in the European referendum, warning that working people would be hit by Brexit.
Birmingham city council leader John Clancy headed the list of signatories to a Core Cities statement claiming that Britain leaving the EU would be a “grave threat” to the economy.
Earlier this week Cllr Clancy told Chamberlain Files that Brexit would damage the Birmingham economy for years and warned that inward investment had already “stagnated” while major companies were waiting to see whether Britain remained in the EU.
But the Core Cities open letter coincided with another opinion poll suggesting that the Leave campaign has moved into a clear lead.
According to an Ipsos Mori poll today in the London Evening Standard, the leavers have a six point lead over the Remain camp. Today’s survey marks the first time Leave has come out ahead in the monthly telephone poll and is the latest of several polls to suggest public opinion has shifted sharply against staying in Europe over the past week.
With a week to go until the June 23 referendum there are signs of panic in Downing Street.
Chancellor George Osborne’s warning of an emergency budget including tax hikes and higher interest rates if Britain votes to leave Europe saw more than 80 Tory MPs sign a Commons motion claiming the Chancellor’s position was “untenable”.
The Core Cities lobby group, consisting of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield councils, believe it is vital for Britain to remain part of the European single market.
The open letter states:
Leaving (the EU) would be a grave threat to our local economies, risking people’s jobs and livelihoods.
If we vote for Brexit, it will be those at the sharp end – working people, not the leaders of the leave campaign, who will pay the price.
For those that believe the EU can work better for Britain, we agree, but people must choose reform not retreat.
It said a vote for Remain represented a vote for prosperity and progress for Britain’s cities, whereas a vote to leave heralded serious economic danger.
It is simply not worth the risk.
The letter continues:
Across our 10 cities and their surrounding regions, EU membership has created 63,000 jobs and protected another 16,800. It has provided £1.8bn of investment to help grow our urban economies, including vital infrastructure from tram lines to trunk roads.
Together, our urban areas already deliver more than half the UK economy, and it is obvious to us that the economic fortunes of our great cities and the millions of people who live in them are closely linked to the future of the Continent and its cities.
It is helping to transform our cities’ transport networks, making it easier and quicker to get to work.
It said cultural integration, social cohesion and addressing inequality by making sure more people could benefit from economic growth were among the greatest challenges facing the UK.
These are global challenges of connection and cooperation. We cannot hope to meet them by becoming detached and disengaged.
For us the choice is clear. If our cities are to continue to grow and prosper, we must remain a member of the European Union.
A new survey of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce members has come down in favour of remaining in Europe.
The poll showed 51% of members favoured staying in the EU, with 39% supporting Brexit and 10% undecided.
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said:
While national polls have narrowed, our own research shows a slight leaning towards a ‘remain’ vote amongst the local business community.
Many businesses we speak to do have significant concerns about the referendum. Those involved in property and investment in the city in particular anecdotally point to a significant number of new deals being put on hold, pending the result.
If these come through post-referendum, we could be on course for a strong year for Birmingham. If the outcome, and, crucially, the Government’s handling of it, results in a loss of confidence among investors, it could be deeply unsettling for the city-region.
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