JOBS in the West Midlands could be ‘at risk’ if Britain votes to leave the European Union, George Osborne has said.
Visiting the borough as part of the campaign trail for the Remain campaign ahead of the EU referendum in June, the Chancellor described the region as a ‘vital manufacturing part of the economy’ and said up to 44,000 local jobs could be lost if the country left the EU and withdrew from the single market economy.
Speaking to Observer news editor Lauren Clarke, Mr Osborne said: “It worries me that if we left the EU that the West Midlands would be hit hard particularly because this part of the country exports a huge amount to Europe.
“And a leave vote would hit jobs and the economy here and would make it much more difficult for national government and local government.”
He was also asked about what a the affect a vote to leave the EU could have on the effectiveness of the newly-established West Midlands Combined Authority to attract inwards investment from Europe for transport or infrastructure projects.
Of course what I want to see is Britain remaining in the EU,” Mr Osborne said.
“But at the same time I want to see a powerful elected mayor and combined authority created here in the West Midlands so the voice of the region is heard not just in London and the heart of Government, but is heard across the world.
“There are a huge amount of exciting things happening here in the West Midlands and I don’t want to see that put at risk by a leave vote.”
Mr Osborne and Pensions Secretary Ros Altmann were visiting the West Warwickshire Sports Club on behalf of the Remain campaign – claiming pensioners could be left worse off if Britain elects to leave the EU.
The pair argued that a leave vote would see inflation rise – causing the the value of the basic state pension to fall by £130 a year.
And among those hardest hit would be pensioners who owned their own home, with the Treasury claiming they could be left £18-£32,000 worse off.
Mr Osborne also had to dismiss claims his latest speech was a scaremongering tactic – instead arguing the British public, and pensioners particularly, had a right to know what analysis says could happen to their pensions.
Slamming the opposition, the Chancellor described a vote to leave as a ‘leap in the dark’.
He added: “Leave campaign say they ‘just don’t know’ what will happen if we leave, but ‘just not knowing’ is not a good enough answer for the British people when it comes to biggest decision I think we’re going to be asked to make as citizens of the UK in our lifetimes.
“What pensioners want above all is certainty, but what leaving the EU means is nothing but uncertainty.
“I don’t think it is worth taking that leap in the dark.”