UK CHANCELLOR George Osbourne has laid out a dire economic ultimatum to voters who want Britain to leave the European Union, saying it could cost the country $60 billion in emergency funding and tip the country back into recession.
The warning comes as Leave campaigner Nigel Farage and Remain’s Bob Geldof traded insults on the Thames in a bizarre flotilla where both sides blasted each other with water cannons and loud music highlighting the extraordinary emotion running through the debate.
Meanwhile Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a Brexit could trigger a second referendum on Scotland leaving the UK in order to remain part of the EU.
While she didn’t give a time frame for another vote that could see the breakup of the UK, she branded it “indefensible” that Scots be forced to leave Europe against their wishes.
“It would be a very serious mistake for the UK to vote to leave the European Union, and I think it would be democratically indefensible for Scotland, if we had voted to stay in, to face the prospect of being taken out,” she said.
“If we were to find ourselves in that position then I think people — you know even people who don’t support Scotland becoming independent — in all fairness could understand the sense of disquiet that there would be in Scotland over that.”
Her words follow European Council President Donald Tusk’s warning earlier this week a Brexit could trigger the collapse of “Western political civilisation”.
Cambridge professor Chris Bickerton echoed it could be the “tip of the iceberg” in a continent becoming increasingly dissatisfied with leadership in the de facto capital of Brussels.
‘PROFOUND ECONOMIC SHOCK’
On Wednesday Conservative Chancellor George Osbourne joined forces with his Labour predecessor Alistair Darling to outline the severe economic shocks for the country if Britain votes to leave.
In a joint editorial for The Times they said “conventional party politics are on hold” for the issue that could lead to a recession, spending cuts and thousands of job losses across the UK.
“Every single credible economic observer in the world now agrees about the impact that a vote to leave would have on Britain’s public finances. It would lead to a profound economic shock that would hit the economy and could tip Britain back into recession,” they wrote.
The pair also unveiled an emergency budget that would see tax rises and spending cuts for the healthcare service but said “all of it can be avoided”.
It comes as the UK pound dropped to a two-month low and the FTSE extended its four day losses to more than $200 billion wiped from British companies. Asian markets have also been affected with the Australian dollar slumping against the US.
The Vote Leave campaign dismissed the warnings as “hysterical prophecies of doom” and unveiled its own package of bills meant to dispel the idea leaving Europe would be a “leap in the dark” as the remain group claims.
The bills focus on security, immigration and asylum seekers have also been interpreted as an alternative manifesto should David Cameron resign if the UK votes to leave as he is expected to.
Nearly 60 Conservative MPs also think it would be “untenable” for George Osbourne to stay and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have posited themselves as an alternative leadership ticket throughout the national campaign.
On the Thames, Sir Bob Geldof and UK Independence Party MP Nigel Farage traded insults over UK fishing policies which are determined by the European Union. It’s one of many areas from farming subsidies to the size of fruit and vegetables that EU legislators set rules on which has driven opposition to faceless bureaucrats in Brussels.
Mr Farage said it was a “shameful sight” to see “multi-millionaires” mocking fisherman. Sir Bob called him a “fraud” who was no “fisherman’s friend” through a megaphone as boats blared music and used water cannons to drown one another out.
Mr Cameron — from safely inside Westminster during Question Time — used his last appearance ahead of the vote to say: “We shouldn’t risk it, we should keep our country safe”.
He said the two-year extrication process would potentially be followed by another seven years of re-establishing trade terms leading to “a decade of uncertainty for our economy.”
“[The UK would] lose the seat around the table that sets the rules of the single market. If you leave and you have no say over those rules you don’t gain control, you lose control.”
Australian citizens registered on the electoral roll in the UK are eligible to vote in the referendum.