17:23 Wednesday 25th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
CHRIS MANN: There’s been a mixed response to a report from an economic think-tank suggesting that quitting the European Union could cause two more years of austerity. The Institute for Fiscal Studies accepts that savings would be made if the British people voted to leave in next month’s referendum, but its boss Paul Johnson says that the benefits would be offset with the economy set to shrink.
PAUL JOHNSON: The immediate effect of leaving the EU would be that the Government would have an extra £8 billion or so to spend, money that currently goes to the European Union. But it wouldn’t take very much at all to change in the economy to lose that very quickly, and our best estimate is actually you’d lose quite a lot more than that £8 billion, because the economy would grow less quickly than otherwise.
CHRIS MANN: But the Leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage is questioning the impartiality of the organisation.
NIGEL FARAGE: They take in millions of pounds of money from the European Union. So once again, it’s the same old game, it’s taxpayers’ money being used to tell us what we should think, and what you should do. And frankly the scale of this now is outrageous. The Government and all their friends, taxpayer funded friends, are frankly cheating.
CHRIS MANN: David Cameron is defending the group’s independence
DAVID CAMERON: The Institute for Fiscal Studies is the gold standard in independent impartial economic forecasting and commentary in our country. It’s accepted by every political party. And the couldn’t be clearer that leaving the European Union would be bad for growth, bad for our economy, bad for jobs and bad for families’ finances.
CHRIS MANN: But the former Conservative Cabinet Minister John Redwood who wants to leave isn’t convinced.
JOHN REDWOOD: The IFS are part of this cosy establishment which desperately wants to keep us in the European Union. And they have on this brochure they’ve issued today the UK in a Changing Europe logo. They say it’s paid for by the Economic and Social Research Council, and they clearly buy in to this general view that there would be unspecified negatives on our trade, were we to leave the European Union.
CHRIS MANN: in contrast the former LibDem Cabinet Minister Sir Vince cable says it’s an unfounded smear.
VINCE CABLE: I’m afraid they are losing the argument on economics. They should be producing some technical arguments of their own. Resorting to abuse of the Institute of Fiscal Studies who are, you know,. robustly independent, they’ve been a thorn in the side of the Coalition Government, Tory Government, Labour. Everybody respects their independence. And trying to smear them is actually very weak.
CHRIS MANN: Expect more of the same for a few weeks. Voting takes place a month tomorrow.