With the Brexit outcome having the potential to hit the UK’s employment and growth prospects, plus the political uncertainties surrounding both the Conservative and Labour parties since the vote, the UK Chancellor George Osborne has spoken publicly for the first time to try to calm the situation. During the campaign, Osborne said if the UK was to leave the EU, the UK would have to raise taxes and cut public spending. The result put him at odds with his personal view that the UK should remain within the EU saying Brexit was “not the outcome that I wanted” however he was “ready to deal with the consequences” adding “It will not be plain sailing in the days ahead but let me make it clear, you should not underestimate our resolve. We were prepared for the unexpected and we are equipped for whatever happens”.
Speaking first thing this morning, he said the outlook for the UK had deteriorated since the vote and that he could not give any assurances that the UK will avoid a recession, adding that there was already evidence companies had put investments on hold and this would have an impact on public finances.
“I made a series of predictions about the impact on the economy if we voted to leave the EU, and there were a range of impacts depending on the kind of new relationships we arrived at with the EU. All of them required an adjustment in the economy.” Osborne said, adding “I don’t resile from that and of course will work very hard to make sure we mitigate the impact and remind people of the fundamental strengths of the British economy.”
Osborne went on to give his view on whether the UK should trigger Article 50 or not. If the UK were to trigger the Article, it means there is a strict 2 year deadline for leaving the EU. He said “The prime minister has given us time as a country to decide what that relationship should be by delaying the decision to trigger the Article 50 procedure until there is a new prime minister in place for the autumn,” adding “Only the UK can trigger Article 50, and in my judgment we should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangement we are seeking with our European neighbours.”
Also over the weekend the UK’s main opposition party imploded with the resignation of 17 (at time of writing) shadow ministers. The reason for the mass resignations was party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s less than stellar performance in the Brexit debate, which one now ex-shadow minister called half-hearted and lacklustre. There have also been reports that Corbyn’s office wanted to delay and water down Labour’s campaign to remain, with some suggesting that the campaign was deliberately sabotaged. A vote of no confidence has been motioned by two labour back benchers and a secret ballot could be held as soon as tomorrow.