UK report warns 'decade of uncertainty' over Brexit

Britain will face a "decade of uncertainty" if it exits from the European Union (EU), a UK government analysis warned today, citing the impact of "Brexit" on some 2 million Britons living abroad.

PTI| Updated: Feb 29, 2016, 18:42 PM IST
UK report warns 'decade of uncertainty' over Brexit

London: Britain will face a "decade of uncertainty" if it exits from the European Union (EU), a UK government analysis warned today, citing the impact of "Brexit" on some 2 million Britons living abroad.

"A vote to leave the EU would be the start, not the end, of a process. It could lead to up to a decade or more of uncertainty," the report by British civil servants and government officials said.

The process of agreeing on the terms of withdrawal if the country was to vote in favour of an exit from the 28-member bloc in the June 23 referendum would hit financial markets, the pound and 2 million British citizens based outside the country, The Guardian reported, citing the analysis.

The 10 years include the time it would take for Britain to exit the EU, to set up a new trade and related agreements as well as negotiate fresh trade deals with the US and other countries elsewhere.

The document says they would only be completed at the end of a three-stage process that will be triggered in June if Britain votes to leave the EU in the planned referendum.

"This government analysis shows that leaving the EU would lead to a decade of damaging uncertainty. The risks to our economy are clear and would leave the jobs and prosperity of the British people dangerously exposed," UK Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock said.

The report details a number of issues that would have to be resolved in any "Brexit" negotiations, including access for UK citizens to the European health insurance card, cross- border security arrangements, the rights of UK fishermen to fish in non-UK waters, including in the North Sea, and access to the agency that monitors the safety of medicines.

The government argues that British trade would also be plunged into uncertainty as it would become necessary to renegotiate individual deals with more than 50 countries that have an arrangement with the EU.

The Cabinet is split over the issue with 17 full members in favour of staying in the EU and five wanting to leave.

British Prime Minister David Cameron argues that being part of the EU is good for the British economy but his opponents are of the view that membership tot he bloc is costly, creates regulatory red tape and allows unlimited immigration.

Cameron yesterday warned that gaps in the case for a "Brexit" made it the "gamble of the century".

Out campaigners have accused the government of launching "Project Fear" and claim the riskier scenario for Britain is staying inside the EU.