Lord Howard and Alistair Darling address Confederation of British Industry on EU referendum

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lord Howard, the former United Kingdom (UK) Conservative Party leader, and Alistair Darling, the former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, set out their opposing views regarding the UK's continuing membership of the European Union at the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) annual dinner on Wednesday.

Logo of the CBI.

The dinner was held as the UK is expected to vote on the matter in next month's EU referendum. Lord Howard encouraged those in attendance to vote for the UK to leave the EU, while Mr Darling was speaking in favour of a vote to remain.

Responding to the CBI calling for the UK to remain in the EU, Lord Howard referred to the organisation's previous calls to become a full member of the European Monetary System and the Euro, saying these calls had been wrong, and suggesting this reduces the credibility of the CBI's current stance. Lord Howard also said if the UK left the EU and didn't replace it with some trade deal, which he described as "inconceivable", then the UK's exports would face EU import tariffs of 2.4% on average. He compared this to the UK's net contribution to the EU's budget, which he said was "equivalent to a seven per cent tariff."

Mr Darling reminded the audience of warnings from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, and Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, that leaving the EU could lead to a recession in the UK. Mr Darling said this "would be disastrous for working people's life chances and living standards".

The referendum is expected to take place on June 23.