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Brexit

Brexit – what would happen if Britain left the EU?

Growth, trade, immigration, jobs, diplomacy: what would the impact be if a 2017 referendum pushed UK towards the exit?

Starting with the estimates that leaving would be a net loss to the UK economy, one analysis often cited is from researchers at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in 2004. They found an exit from the EU would permanently reduce UK GDP by 2.25%, mainly because of lower foreign direct investment. the UK could suffer income falls of between 6.3% to 9.5% of GDP, similar to the loss resulting from the global financial crisis of 2008-09. That is under the researchers’ pessimistic scenario, in which the UK is not able to negotiate favourable trade terms. Under an optimistic scenario, in which the UK continues to have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU, losses would be 2.2% of GDP. Those most passionately opposed to a Brexit, meanwhile, say leaving the EU would shut the UK out of its most important market (the EU) and from other markets around the world that have trade agreements with the EU (but not with the UK in isolation). More than half of businesses (57%) believe that remaining a member of the EU, with more powers brought back to Westminster, would be positive. However, 28% of firms also view withdrawal combined with a formal UK-EU free trade agreement as a positive scenario. But only half that proportion, 13%, view withdrawal without such an agreement as positive. In The Trouble with Europe, Bootle tries to assess what this all means for the UK economy. Looking at goods and services exports as well as what the UK earns on overseas investments, the proportion of total receipts from abroad that come from the EU is just over 40%, Bootle says. Although this probably exaggerates the true importance of the EU in British trade, says the economist, given distortions to the figures from factors such as UK companies exporting to ports in the EU only to re-export beyond the region.

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