The British economy would suffer “for many years to come” if the nation voted to pull out of the European Union, Commonwealth minister Hugo Swire has claimed.
Speaking at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Swire said last Wednesday (18) that he believed the diverse communities which make up the UK would be better off in a reformed union.
“A lot of small businesses in the UK rely on importing goods into the EU and they won’t sell anything to anyone if the British economy is not doing well,” he said.
“The British economy is doing well, but if we vote to come out of the EU it will suffer for many years to come.”
Swire said that those in the leave camp were not able to articulate clearly what the consequences would be of exiting from the 28-member grouping.
The British public are set to vote on June 23 to decide the fate of the UK’s relationship with the EU.
As an EU member, Britain can currently trade freely within the bloc without having to pay additional taxes to import goods and “it would seem to me to be crazy” to jeopardise this, Swire said.
He is also urging the Asian community to register to vote by June 7, to help ensure the children of diaspora communities “have an even better life” than their parents had.
“They (parents) want them to be able to work in… the financial sectors of Frankfurt and that could be challenged if we weren’t part of the EU,” he said.
The minister also spoke about India’s relationship with the UK, which has attracted significant investment from Indian companies.
Swire said India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, insisted that his country’s entry point into the EU was via the UK during his visit to London last year.
“If we pull out, the Indian government would look for another entry point into the EU. In which case, could we expect the levels of Indian investment we have had in the EU to come to the UK?” Swire questioned.
He described the infighting in the Tory party due to each side of the debate attacking the other as “a very strange period”.
“It’s difficult, the suspension of collective ministerial responsibilities is quite strange,” he explained.
“It’s quite challenging. Some of my colleagues have operated within the contours of what was agreed. Others have gone over those contours.”