Chris Leslie – 2015 Comments on the Risk of Brexit

The comments made by Chris Leslie, the then Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on 23 April 2015. The comments were made with reference to an interview with George Gillespie, the Chief Executive of MIRA, the text of which is at the base of this page.

This is an embarrassing start to the day for George Osborne. The chief executive of the company he is visiting has warned of the ‘danger’ of Tory policy on the European Union, which risks ‘destroying’ Britain’s alliances with our trading partners.

As Citi warns in its election briefing today, a Conservative government after the election ‘would raise Brexit risk’ which ‘would be highly damaging for the UK economy’.

And the Tories would not only endanger jobs and investment by risking exit from Europe, their plans to double the spending cuts next year would hit working families hard and damage our NHS.


Transcript of Dr George Gillespie, Chief Executive of MIRA, Today Programme, Thursday, 23 April 2015

John Humphrys:
But you’re successful, you’re optimistic, we’ve got a new government coming, what worries you about the next 5 years?

George Gillespie:
We’ve talked about skills; I guess another major issue for me would be Europe. One of the reasons that MIRA has been very successful is that the UK is seen around the world as a good place to set up business, it has a very good legal system, we have reasonable employment laws, a good balance between employee and employer and we are a landing strip for Europe. If we cut ourselves from Europe all of a sudden that whole reason for coming to the UK starts to disappear and that makes that much more difficult to attract foreign investment in the UK.

JH:
If we cut ourselves off from Europe do you think there is a danger of that?

GG:
The perception around the world even as we discuss it now, before we even get to having a referendum and the consequences of that, I’m in China, I’m having to explain that no, the UK is not leaving Europe right now but even the discussion that are going on are already having ripple effects around the world. In terms of the perception that the UK is moving away from Europe.

JH:
So your message to them is what, the Chancellor will be sitting in the very chair you’re occupying in an hour from now.

GG:
My message would be to think very, very carefully that we don’t accidently don’t end up destroying one of our key industrial allies which is to be part of Europe, the largest European market.

JH:
Destroying is a big word?

GG:
I think we need think very carefully about stepping out of Europe. I’m quite passionate about it and I have said that many times.

JH:
But you think there is a real danger?

GG:
I think there is a danger that other factors other than, let’s say economics or industrial development drive a decision and the population vote for something that perhaps has longer terms consequences…

JH:
In other words a kind of emotional knee-jerk response…

GG:
Potentially yes…

JH:
And that worries you?

GG:
That does yes. If looking forward into the next government period that is one of the issues that definitely concerns me.