London Evening Standard/London
Tory infighting over Europe deepened yesterday as a senior Cabinet minister accused Downing Street of a “relentless campaign of fear” against a Brexit.
In its latest shot against the Leave campaign, the government warned that Britain could be out of the European Union by 2018 with no trade deals to fall back on if the public vote Leave on June 23.
A formal Whitehall study claimed that:
l The City of London would be cast outside the international laws and regulations governing its trade, causing years of uncertainty.
l UK financial firms could have to meet “different or additional requirements” for operations in other EU countries if Britain left.
l Some 53 trade deals would have to be renegotiated, a process taking six to eight years after the UK finally leaves. Access to the huge European single market could be disrupted.
l Britain would have little say over its exit deal, according to the document, and would “be excluded from EU discussions on the nature of the exit negotiations”.
The report, which was served with the full authority of Whitehall, was hammered home by Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock who said there would be at least a “decade of uncertainty”.
But in a furious counterblast, Commons leader Chris Grayling, said: “People will not be impressed with this relentless campaign of fear.”
Grayling, one of six Cabinet ministers pushing for a vote to leave the EU, lampooned the idea it would take twice as long to strike new trade agreements as it did to win World War II.
The toxic “blue on blue” attacks were fuelled by alarm among eurosceptic ministers that David Cameron is harnessing the civil service to help the campaign to Remain while forbidding civil servants from showing them official papers relating to the EU referendum.
Commons committee chair Bernard Jenkin, an ally of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, applied for an Urgent Question in parliament on the role played by the chief civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, whom sceptics blame for mobilising Whitehall against them.
Jenkin said the prime minister should explain to Parliament why some senior ministers were being kept in the dark about work going on in their own departments — a reference to Duncan Smith no knowing that his officials were assembling figures on EU benefit claims.
Hancock denied accusations of scaremongering and told BBC radio the analysis “is a cautious assessment”.
Meanwhile Boris Johnson came under savage attack yesterday from his own Tory deputy mayor in charge of policing, who warned the mayor will endanger London if he succeeds in his campaign for Britain to leave the EU.
Stephen Greenhalgh, who oversees the Met, hit out at politicians who “think that sovereignty is more important than public safety”. He also suggested a “Brexit” would make Britain more vulnerable to a Paris-style terror attack.
His criticism appeared to be a clear swipe at the mayor, who just days ago challenged David Cameron in the Commons over his deal with EU leaders.
Greenhalgh warned: “I know there are people who think that sovereignty is more important than public safety, or that by leaving the EU we would be protecting ourselves. I am afraid I cannot agree with them.
“My experience in setting the strategy and overseeing the performance of the country’s largest police force has made it very clear to me that London, and the rest of the UK, is more secure in a reformed EU than it would be outside.”
Greenhalgh’s intervention is likely to infuriate “Brexit” campaigners who argue Britain could strengthen its borders and the battle against terrorism by being outside the EU.
But he insisted: “Far from our position in the EU making us more likely to see a Paris-style attack, as some have claimed, it is leaving the EU that would put us most at risk by breaking those relationships that keep us safe: the intelligence-sharing and international co-operation that our law enforcement agencies rely on.”
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