Leave campaigners get personal as Cameron and Osborne warn of recession

Written by David Singleton on 23 May 2016 in Diary

‘Remember when Mystic Gideon was forecasting a budget surplus? The man has all the predictive capability of a Magic 8-Ball.’

David Cameron and George Osborne have infuriated their opponents in the Brexit battle with warnings that leaving Europe would tip the country into a "DIY recession".

The prime minister and chancellor today released a Treasury analysis warning of a fall in GDP, lower house prices and job losses.

Unveiling the report at a B&Q store in Southampton, Cameron declared:

"As the Bank of England has said and the IMF has underlined, and the Treasury has now confirmed, the shock to our economy after leaving Europe would tip the country into recession. This could be, for the first time in history, a recession brought on ourselves. As I stand here in B&Q, it would be a DIY recession ...

"After all the pain, all the sacrifice by the British people, why would we want to put it at risk again? It would be like surviving a fall and then running straight back to the cliff-edge. It is the self-destruct option."

The short-term analysis of the risks of Brexit released by the Treasury claims Britain’s GDP would be between 3.6% and 6% lower after two years than current forecasts.

The analysis suggests that between 520,000 and 820,000 jobs would go, while wages would fall by £800 a year on average and the value of the pound would plummet by between 13% and 15%.

Brexit campaigners seized on the latest warnings as further evidence of the Remain camp’s ‘Project Fear’ narrative.

In a statement, the Vote Leave campaign argued: “Instead of talking about forecasts and woolly predictions, we should instead talk about what is happening now…If we Vote Leave, we will substantially cut the current account deficit and thus will be able to stabilise the economy. The same old scare stories simply don’t wash.”

Arron Banks, co-chairman of the Leave.EU campaign, dismissed the dire warnings in the latest Treasury report with a personal attack on the chancellor.

He said: “The Osborne Treasury will pump out whatever rubbish its master asks for. Remember when Mystic Gideon was forecasting a budget surplus by 2014/15? One year on and the deficit is about £69 billion, with the national debt up to £1.5 trillion and rising fast.

"The man has all the predictive capability of a Magic 8-Ball. I've no idea why anyone in the media wastes their time indulging him.”

Former Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith said the Treasury had “consistently got its predictions wrong in the past” and pointed out responsibility for forecasting was removed from the department in 2010.

“This Treasury document is not an honest assessment but a deeply biased view of the future and it should not be believed by anyone,” the Conservative MP said.

At the weekend, Duncan Smith compared Osborne to "Pinocchio" over his claim that a vote to leave the EU would cause an economic shock to UK house prices.

Today, Duncan Smith also got personal with a jibe at business secretary Sajid Javid. The former work and pensions secretary said he was disappointed with the decision by Javid to join the remain camp – because his Tory colleague had privately said that he backed Brexit.

“I’m deeply disappointed in him … having privately said how much he wanted the UK to leave the European Union he is now on defending this terrible report,” Duncan Smith told Radio 4’s Today programme.

Asked to clarify whether Javid had privately told him that he wanted Britain to leave the EU, Duncan Smith said: “He has, yup.”

But allies of Javid have denied the claims by Duncan Smith. "This is simply not true. Sajid has said no such thing either in private or public,” said one source close to the business secretary.



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