A discussion hosted by Scottish Friendly on the potential effect of Brexit on savings provided a showcase for politicians from opposing sides to join together in arguing their respective cases. Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee Chris Philp and Labour-Co-op MP Gareth Thomas, also Chair of the Co-op Party, made a formidable team for Remain. Making the case for Brexit were the controversial Conservative Peer Lord Howard Flight and Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins.
Neil Lovatt from Scottish Friendly kicked off proceedings with findings from the latest Disposable Income Index. The research asked how people were feeling about the referendum and found that half of households (51.6%) are worried, with young people aged 18-24 most fearful about the impact of Brexit on their family’s finances.
Julia Rampen, Deputy Editor of Mirror Money Online, guided the audience through proceedings starting with Howard Flight. Flight opened the case for Leave and stressed the need for more savings with Brexit providing a golden opportunity. “As a result of leaving what is, in effect, a protectionist racket the cost of food and many other things will go down, so people’s disposable income and living standards should increase.”
Chris Philp took up the baton for Remain. Philp cited a series of statistics to support the case, including 44% of British exports are headed for the EU. On the trade deficit, he predicted that this would only get worse “When it comes to goods, there is a trade deficit between Britain and the EU of £80 billion, but on services there is a £20 billion surplus. The negotiations are more likely to agree a free trade deal on goods, there almost certainly won’t be a free trade deal on services”. With concerns that Brexit would cause foreign direct investment to crash increasing the probability of a run on the currency, Philip concluded that for the sake of the economy he is a “reluctant Remainer”.
“Anti-democratic, anti-socialist and a failing economy”, Kelvin Hopkins wasted no time in sticking the boot in to the EU. Hopkins continued “We’ve seen wages as a proportion of GDP falling very substantially in recent years and all of this is about trying to drive up profits because profits are seemingly the only way to drive investment. That approach to economic management, or mismanagement, has been failing for a long time and we’ve got to reverse that.”
Closing the debate for Remain, Gareth Thomas argued “if you’re a saver and a patriot, and most savers are patriots, it is actually in our interests to be in the European Union. It’s about the type of country we want going forward. If we want a safe, secure, economically prosperous country that is outward looking, that wants to give the next generation the chance to prosper, to study abroad, work abroad, then continuing membership of the European Union is essential for Britain’s interests going forward”.