Post-Brexit Britain will need open borders to stave off economic turmoil – report

© Philippe Wojazer
Britain will need to allow in large numbers of migrants from the European Union every year to limit the economic impact of leaving the EU, according to a centrist global think tank.

In a report titled, “Assessing the Economic Implications of Brexit,” Oxford Economics analyzed how Britain’s political and economic landscape would change if Britons voted to leave the EU on June 23. 

Of nine post-exit scenarios considered, the report predicts the most positive Brexit scenario for Britain involves a gross domestic product (GDP) fall of just 0.1 percent by 2030, which is actually equivalent to a rise of around £40 for everyone in the country. However, there is a catch.

Oxford Economics says that this positive Brexit scenario could only be achieved if the government continues to allow in migrants from Europe. This is in contrast to claims by Britain’s “Leave” campaign that quitting the EU would mean Britain could reduce immigration.

The report also concludes that the most positive outcome would depend on the government signing an EU trade deal that is likely to hamper Britain’s ability to sign bilateral trade agreements with other states around the world. It also adds that Britain would actually need to keep contributing to the EU’s budget.

Oxford Economics describes itself as an “independent global advisory firm” that provides reports and forecasts for nations worldwide.

The group says any Brexit scenario that involves heavily curbing immigration would create a black hole in Britain’s economy, leading to large tax rises or slashed spending of anywhere up to £31 billon.

Speaking ahead of the report, Henry Worthington, of Oxford Economics, said a Brexit may not be so bad for Britain in the long term.

“The long-term impact of Brexit need not be severe. But benign scenarios involve retaining aspects of EU membership: continued high immigration, restrictions on our ability to make trade deals with non-EU countries and continuing to pay money to Brussels,” he told the Independent.

“Despite the short-term benefit to the UK Budget of no longer contributing to Brussels, populist policy choices would damage tax revenues by much more. The result would be even more austerity.”

© Yves Herman

Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has entered the Brexit debate, and is expected to call on his party to become more engaged in the argument. In his first major intervention since stepping down as leader last year, he is expected to appeal to the millions of voters who backed him in 2015 to vote for Britain to remain in the EU on June 23.

Serving Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who previously expressed doubts over the benefits of EU membership, has been chastised by critics for playing too low-key a role in Britain’s “Remain” campaign that is lobbying against Brexit.

Speaking during a Labour event on Tuesday, Miliband will urge his audience to vote to stay in the bloc.

“I want to send a very clear message to the 9 million people who voted Labour at the last election: I believe the change you voted for, and still want to see in Britain, can only be achieved by us remaining in the European Union,” Miliband will say.

“And I believe that leaving would irreparably set back the cause of Labour politics. At heart our principle as a party is one of collectivism: the idea that we achieve more together than we can alone. It says it on our party card.”

Britain’s biggest business lobby, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), says a Brexit would cause a serious shock to Britain’s economy and could cost the UK £100 billion and up to 1 million jobs. Ratings agency Moody’s says the UK’s largest firms could face a credit downgrade, possibly forcing borrowing costs to rise.

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump says he believes Britain may well opt to exit the EU, while outgoing US President Barak Obama is calling for Brits to vote to remain part of the bloc.