Exclusive: Osborne admits EU vote will be close, but urges: ‘Think of your grandchildren’

020616  George Osborne from the Vote Remain campaign
020616 George Osborne from the Vote Remain campaign
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GEORGE Osborne has urged undecided voters to put their children and grandchildren first in the European Union referendum.

Accepting that the outcome of the June 23 vote will be “close”, the Chancellor says the vote will be the most important that people face in a lifetime.

020616  George Osborne from the Vote Remain campaign meets Yorkshire Post Editor James Mitchinson at the Yorkshire Post Offices in Leeds yesterday(thurs) (GL1010/29i)

020616 George Osborne from the Vote Remain campaign meets Yorkshire Post Editor James Mitchinson at the Yorkshire Post Offices in Leeds yesterday(thurs) (GL1010/29i)

“I would say to parents and grandparents, if you have any doubts think about your children and grandchildren,” Mr Osborne told The Yorkshire Post during an exclusive interview following a campaign visit to Keighley.

Mr Osborne made no secret of the tightness of the vote, with all polls virtually neck-and-neck as the June 23 date approaches.

“It will be close, people certainly need to vote. This is not one of those elections to sit out, far more important than any general election. If people focus on the issues for their country they will vote to remain.

“I also think that if we need to think about voting for the next generation. The overwhelming number of younger people is that they see their future with Britain engaged in Euope. They don’t want that future taken away from them.

George Osborne during a visit to The Yorkshire Post.

George Osborne during a visit to The Yorkshire Post.

“In the end it comes down to this, I love Britain and that country I love is an outward looking country that has never been afariad to go out there and shape the world rather than think it can retreat from the world.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Osborne also played down voter fears about illegal immigrations, claiming Britain has “some of the most secure borders in the world”, while defending the European Union’s unaudited accounts.

He also claimed that splits in the Conservative party - the so-called ‘blue on blue’ attacks between Brexit and remain campaigners – were unrepresentative of the House of Commons because at least 500 out of 650 MPs were in favour of staying in the European Union.

However every answer by Mr Osborne was prefaced by his fears about the likely damage to the Yorkshire and UK economy if the public defy the wish of David Cameron’s government later this month.

“I think you would see jobs lost here, experts say more than 40,000 jobs.

“You would see manufacturing businesses struggle, you would see the brilliant financial services that we have in Leeds struggle.

“The rural ceconomy would be hit too, we would not be able to export the foods that we have to Europe in the same way that we do.

“There are risks, but lots of of big opportunites if we stay, we are seeing jobs and busineses being cvreated here to serve that big single market. There is a lot at stake, we focus on the risks rightly but there is also a big plus. They would have confidence that the issues thay they have with the EU question are resolved.”

The chancellor added that he anticipated the outcome would be a vote to remain.

“All my instincts are that the country is not going to vote leave,” he said.

“Britain is a very pragmatic place that does not do stupid things. Yorkshire is most pragmatic, that’s the reputation.”

• In Friday’s The Yorkshire Post, the Chancellor’s talks Northern Powerhouse, flooding and EU spending.