EU referendum: US Treasury Secretaries' Remain call angers Leave campaign

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The intervention of eight former US Treasury Secretaries in the EU referendum debate just two days before the arrival of Barack Obama in this country drew strong criticism from the Leave campaign today. 

The eight warned in an open letter to The Times that a vote to leave “risks a difficult transition for Britain at a time of already threateningly slow global growth”.

They added: “We also find compelling the argument of the Remain camp that a vote to leave Europe represents a risky bet on the country’s economic future.”

Chancellor George Osborne welcomed the former treasury secretaries’ comment that Brexit would mean a “smaller, slower growing British economy for year to come”, tweeting: “Not a price worth paying.”

But Liam Fox, former Tory defence secretary and prominent Leave campaigner, said the intervention was misguided: “They have failed to take into account the decline and failure of the European economy itself, with a falling share of world trade, a smaller and less important destination for UK exports, and with chronic unemployment.”

However, Larry Summers, one of the eight signatories, said that if the UK withdrew from the EU it would damage its global financial standing. 

“It would reduce Britain’s very positive influence as an ally of the US. It would do damage to London as a financial centre,” Summers told Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I think the special relationship would translate much less into prosperity for both our countries, and I think the special relationship would have much less influence on the broad world.”

Fox, referring to today’s unemployment figures, said: “If you look at Britain’s unemployment rate of 5.1%, the European Union averages 8.9%, and the eurozone is 10.3% — that is a failing European economy, where we are clearly not having the influence we ought to have, or they would have falling unemployment the way we have in Britain.”

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April 21, 2016 |
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